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Clarence Swenson, Soldier

Story & Photo By: Dee (DEEDUN) Dunheim

Clarence Swenson

Clarence Swensen was one of 25 Munchkin soldiers, decked out and militarily adorned for fourteen and one-half minutes of fame in the 1939 MGM movie spectacular Wizard of Oz.

During Munchkinland segments, shots of the tiny soldiers are interspersed in scenes from the time Dorothy arrives until she begins her journey down the Yellow Brick Road on her search for the Wizard.

When the soldiers march in formation, Swensen sees himself. "You can point me out. The lead soldier was followed by six rows of four soldiers each,” he explains, “...and when we march from left to right across your screen, I’m the one at the end of the fourth row.”
Even though the Munchkinland segment is just short of fifteen minutes long, it took eight weeks of production as 124 Little People plus twelve normal sized children memorized their choreography and lines (if they had any,) and were fitted with incredibly colorful and whimsical costuming.

Wizard of Oz fans won’t let Swensen forget his fancy footwork, particularly those who steadfastly arrive in Indiana to meet up with him during the weekend long Wizard of Oz Festival each September.

The 25th annual Wizard of Oz Festival runs from September 15 -17 in Valparaiso, Indiana. Organized by Lakeshore Festival & Events, Inc., it is the oldest and largest celebration of Oz in the country.

Copyright (C) 2008 Lakeshore Festivals and Events Corp./Indiana Wizard of Oz Festival.