, one of the last surviving Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz, died of natural causes this morning in his sleep. He was 89.
Until recently Carroll, born Michael Finocchiaro, lived in the Bel-Nor neighborhood of north St. Louis County where he settled following a career in showbiz.
Among his many distinctions, the four-foot-seven-inch Carroll claimed he was the godson of mobster Al Capone, was proclaimed the world's fastest dancer by Ripley's Believe It or Not
and was personally recruited by Judy Garland to appear in the Wizard of Oz.
Exactly which Munchkin Carroll played in the historic movie is somewhat up for debate, though no one disputes his involvement in the film.
In a 2006 article
in the Riverfront Times
, Carroll claimed that he was the Munchkin who praised Dorthy after her house landed on and killed the Wicked Witch of the East. "We thank you very sweetly, for doing it so neatly."
He also supposedly played a Munchkin soldier. And Mickey claims that it was his voice-over that tells Dorthy to "follow the Yellow Brick Road."
But other Wizard of Oz aficionados
have questioned some of Carroll's claims.
In 2007, Carroll was passed over
for a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame when certain inconsistencies regarding his acting career in the Spanky and Our Gang
series were found in his application.
No matter. That same year Carroll and the handful of surviving Munchkins received a star on a much bigger stage: The Hollywood Walk of Fame
Carroll was especially generous late in life with his time and money, gladly lending his celebrity status to nearly any charity or community event and giving thousands upon thousands of dollars to worthy causes.
A visitation for Carroll will be held next Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Kutis Funeral Home at 10151 Gravois Road. The funeral will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13, at the New Cathederal on Lindell.
In lieu of flowers, it's asked the people wanting to remember Carroll donate to one of the many charities listed on his website