Ruth Robinson Duccini, one of The Wizard of Oz's Munchkins, has died, aged 95. The actress died in Las Vegas on Thursday (16Jan14), according to The Courant newspaper.
Duccini was just Ruth Robinson when she portrayed a Munchkin villager in the beloved 1939 movie.
She was the longest-surviving female Munchkin, and one of only two still alive.
Of the 124 little people cast in the film, only 93-year-old Jerry Maren remains.
The son of Harold Arlen has hit out at activists for using his father's classic song Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead to celebrate the passing of Margaret Thatcher. The death of the controversial former U.K. Prime Minister on Monday (08Apr13) has divided the U.K., and an online campaign was launched to get the beloved The Wizard of Oz track to the top of the singles chart on Sunday (14Apr13) to mark Thatcher's passing.
Two of the movie's stars, Ruth Duccini and Jerry Maren, blasted the plans, and now Sam Arlen, whose father Harold composed the track, has spoken out to condemn the move.
He tells Britain's Sunday Express, "I am bitterly upset and angry this is happening. My father would have been appalled. His music has brought joy to millions over the decades in almost every country in the world. I think he would feel devastated that it has been turned into an anthem of political hate."
BBC bosses will air a five-second clip of the track in a news bulletin to explain the reasons behind its comeback during Sunday's chart show, but Sam Arlen is urging them to refuse to play it at all.
He adds, "I believe it will be in incredibly bad taste to air it like this. I feel truly sorry for her family that Ding Dong! is being used to taunt her in death."
Arlen is also considering taking legal advice over how he could stem "spite sales" of the track but adds, "I very much doubt there is anything I can do."
The Wizard Of Oz star Ruth Duccini feels "ashamed" and "very sad" that the film's song Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead has been used to celebrate the passing of former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The veteran politician's death on Monday (08Apr13) divided Brits and an online campaign was launched by activists in a bid to get the beloved 1939 family film's track to number one in the singles chart on Sunday (14Apr13).
Duccini, who played a Munchkin in the Judy Garland movie, is stunned by the furore, and tells Britain's The Sun, "Nobody deserves to be treated in such a way. When we were filming the movie no one intended it to be used in this way. I am ashamed, I really am.
"Why are they allowed to use the music like that? I thought British people were better than that. I don't understand them. All over the world The Wizard Of Oz is cherished as a family film.
"Mums and dads and their children sit down to watch it together and enjoy the story, songs and dancing. Everyone loves the movie - it is magically heart-warming. This campaign makes me feel very sad."
Jerry Maren, another surviving Munchkin star, adds, "It is shocking that the song is being used to celebrate the death of someone. It's a shame that the song is being used in this way.
"Thatcher was a great lady and I'm upset she has passed away. It's sad that people feel like this. I'm so proud to be a part of one of the greatest films of all time - I hope people respect the memory of the film forever more."
BBC bosses revealed on Friday (12Apr13) they will not ban the song from the radio when it charts on Sunday, but they are refusing to play the whole track. Instead, they will air a five-second clip in a news bulletin to explain the reasons behind its comeback.