Please help me solve the mystery of a distorted memory I have regarding the film "The Wizard of Oz"

This memory of mine is one that I’ve recalled quite a few times over the years since it happened. I recently learned that my memory of this particular event, as it exists in my mind, can not possibly be correct. Thinking hard about it, my memory of when this event occurred was most likely sometime between 1993 and 2003.

Here’s the memory exactly as I recall it, bearing in mind I’ve just learned that what you are about to read contains factual errors:

Except… the facts don’t add up.

From here:
[li]Judy Garland ‘Dorothy’ died June 22, 1969.[/li][li]Frank Morgan ‘Professor Marvel, The Gatekeeper, The Carriage Driver, The Doorman, The Wizard of Oz’ died September 18, 1949.[/li][li]Ray Bolger ‘Hunk, The Scarecrow’ died January 15, 1987.[/li][li]Bert Lahr ‘Zeke, The Cowardly Lion’ died December 4, 1967.[/li][li]Jack Haley ‘Hickory, The Tin Man’ died June 6, 1979.[/li][li]Billie Burke ‘Glinda’ died May 14, 1970.[/li][li]Margaret Hamilton ‘Miss Gulch, The Wicked Witch of the West’ died May 16, 1985.[/li][li]Clara Blandick ‘Auntie Em’ died April 15, 1962. (suicide)[/li][li]Charlie Grapewin ‘Uncle Henry’ died February 2, 1956.[/li][li]Terry ‘Toto’ died in 1945[/li][/ul]

If we try to squish together my memory of the news story, the subsequent newspaper cartoon I saw and the real world facts, it would suggest that what I am recalling must be the death of Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow, in 1987, and it’s simply a case of my memory of when this all occured is just out by a few years. Except… there’s just no way known Bolger’s death, and subsequent news media, could be what I am recalling. I would have been four years old in January 1987, and I can’t remember squat from that time relating to newsworthy items, and certainly wouldn’t have understood the meaning of the cartoon I saw even if that was what I was recalling.

So my question is… what on earth is the event that I am remembering from sometime between 1993 - 2003, relating to the Wizard of Oz and the passing of a “last surviving” main character? What was the tribute cartoon I saw in relation to?

I’ve tried altering a minor fact here or there to make the story fit (maybe it was the author’s death I am recalling? Checks on Google. Nope.)

A puzzled mind would like this one solved. What on earth is it that I am remembering?

What about the munchkins? There’s still about 4 alive, but it always makes the news when one if them dies, and occasionally you’ll see them in a group as the “last surviving munchkins.”

Thanks for your reply.

I came across some stories of “last surviving munchkins” in my Googling attempts to correct my distorted memory… but it doesn’t gel, too much of what I remember would have to be wrong for that to be it. There were still quite a few munchkins alive in 1993-2003 for the passing of one of them to be as newsworthy as I recall it. And it doesn’t fit closely enough with the tribute cartoon I remember seeing.

Maybe you remember more from your childhood than you think. Is this the cartoon?

That cartoon is very similar… in fact the premise is basically the same, it’s not quite drawn in the same style as the one I am recalling.


Is it possible that you saw the cartoon sometime after it was actually news, and mistook it for a current event? Maybe in a scrapbook or stack of old newspaper clippings?



I thought Buddy Ebsen (Beverly Hillbillies the most recognizable role) was in the movie? did he die at the time you are thinking?; I guess this is what I remembered about Ebsen/Wizard of Oz. his voice in some of the singing.

Forum change.

Presumably, for a forum change. This question would be a perfect match for the Cafe Society forum, and will probably get more and better answers there than it would here.

Moving it there now, from IMHO.

Yeah, Wikipedia’s page on Ray Bolger notes that “An editorial cartoon on January 17, 1987, two days after his death, by Chicago Tribune artist Dick Locher, depicted the Oz cast dancing off into the setting sun and toward the Emerald City, with the Scarecrow running to catch up,” with a reference to the same cartoon you linked to (albeit at a different site).

For some reason, I’d been thinking that Margaret Hamilton was the last surviving cast member, which led me to check and make sure Ray Bolger’s death date wasn’t a mistake.

Memory can be tricksy, and it’s certainly possible that the cartoon was reprinted (for whatever reason) at a later date – e.g., some celebration or retrospective of Locher’s career?

Perhaps this happened: You saw the cartoon when Bolger died in 1987. When Ebsen died in 2003, you saw the news stories about the fact that he was originally cast as the Tin Man (and perhaps his voice can be heard in some songs and perhaps he appeared in some long-distance shots). Later you conflated seeing the cartoon and reading the news stories, so you now think that you saw the cartoon in 2003. This sort of mixing together events happens all the time. See the recent thread here about how many people insist that they saw a different ending to the movie Big, when what they’re actually remembering is the ending to the movie 14 Going on 30.

BTW, the Coroner. who died in the 00’s, was the last surviving cast member w/dialogue.

I know in my case that more often than not, when I say 'Of course, that was 20 years ago " , [i.e., 1993] I should be saying “25 years ago”, [1988, or close enough to 1987 for such purposes as this).

In fact, I am currently pushing the ‘should have said 30 years ago’ envelope.

It might also be possible that you saw the cartoon as a young child, and it made an impression but you didn’t understand it. Then, some time later, the meaning of it came clear to you, so you conflated the original sight of it with the time when you finally ‘got’ it.