A picture of Pellegrini as one of the 'Sleepy Head Munchkins"
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
It was filmed in the late 1930s, but Margaret Pellegrini remembers the time she acted in The Wizard of Oz as if it were yesterday.
"It's wonderful to know that I had part of it, that I was in it," said the 89-year-old Pellegrini, who lives at the Beatitudes Campus in central Phoenix.
She is just one of three actors who played one of the munchkins still alive.
Pellegrini said she was just 13 years old when a scout spotted her at a state fair. He took down her name and address, and then two years later she received an important piece of mail.
"(My father) said, 'You got your letter from Hollywood,' and I jumped up and down. Oh, I was so excited," recalled Pellegrini.
"I got a train ticket to head to Hollywood, and I was going to be in The Wizard of Oz, which I never heard. I didn't know anything about it," she continued.
Pellegrini was cast as one of the sleepyhead munchkins, and though she was just 16 at the time, she still remembers her every line.
"Wake up you sleepyhead. Rub your eyes. Get out of bed. Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead," Pellegrini sang.
"I'm not a singer!" she continued, explaining that the songs were dubbed over.
Pellegrini was paid $50 a week. It was 10 times what her father made, so she sent money home to Alabama.
"I used to send it home to him so they would live comfortable," she said.
However, she mentioned Toto, Dorothy's dog had a higher salary.
"What gets me is Toto the dog," Pellegrini said.
"What about Toto?" asked CBS 5's Greg Argos.
"Well he got paid more than I did. He got $125 a week, and I only got $50. So he got paid more than I did. But look where he's at today. He's pushing daises," she joked.
Despite her small part, Pellegrini said she is honored to be part of a movie that is such an influential part of our culture. It has spun off dozens of similar movies and books over the years and even a Broadway show.
Pellegrini said she also appreciated how the movie influenced the public's perception of little people in a positive light.
"It showed that we were not only little, but we could do what big people did," she explained.
Friday, Disney's adaptation of the movie, OZ: The Great and Powerful is released. Pellegrini says she is not sure whether she will go to the movie. Regardless, she says it will not stack up to the original.
"The Wizard of Oz, they'll never make another one like it!" exclaimed Pellegrini.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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