By Joe Holleman
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Mickey Carroll, one of the last surviving Munchkins from the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz," died this morning of natural causes at a caretaker's home in Crestwood. He was 89 and had lived in Bel-Nor for seven decades.
Mr. Carroll, whose real name was Michael Finocchiaro, was born July 8, 1919 in north St. Louis.
He, his twin sister and four other siblings grew up in a row house just north of downtown, at Eighth Street and O’Fallon Avenue, in what was then an Italian neighborhood.
One of his grandfathers was a stone carver who immigrated to this county and went into the cemetery monument business.
While in elementary school, Carroll danced at the Muny Opera. When Carroll’s father, Joseph Finocchiaro, died when Carroll was in his teens, he helped support his family by working in vaudeville at the newly opened Fox Theatre.
He then traveled to Chicago and worked in clubs and on the Orpheum Theater vaudeville circuit. It was while on the Orpheum circuit in the early 1930s that Carroll met Judy Garland in a vaudeville act. That friendship led to his only movie role — the violin-playing munckhkin in the 1939 classic film.
Of his film experience, Carroll once said: "When we were making the movie, we were singing ‘Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead’ and ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road.’ We didn’t know what we were saying, it was like gibberish, but I knew it was going to be a hit because of Judy Garland. She was so sweet as a teen-ager."
When the "Wizard of Oz" appeared on television in the 1960s, he found a new career at charity and movie-related events.
Locally, Carroll became active in raising money for chairities and once claimed that he had raised more than $1 million for worthy causes.