Each time The Wizard of Oz returns to the headlines, a central Iowa man gets asked about his years in show business.
Dale Paullin is happy to oblige, but he wants to set the record straight.
The latest rendition is Oz: the Great and Powerful, a testament to the endurance of a great movie and it means Paullin will get new requests for an old story.
“I was one of the munchkins in the Wizard of Oz,” he explains.
He`s 89, now, and a favorite at Villa Del Sol Senior Center in Marshalltown, but as a kid, he was known as the midget, and it was rough.
“They talk about cruelty, today, in schools. You should have been back there when I was a kid.”
But in 1938, a man pointed out an ad in show biz magazine, “He saw in there that Warner Brothers wanted 500 little people…”
In a matter of weeks, Paullin was shooting on the set of the Wizard of Oz, suddenly surrounded by others his size and by stars like young Judy Garland.
The movie was a smash at it gave Paullin the urge to continue on the stage.
“Henry Kramer`s Hollywood Midgets is what is was called, and there were seven of us little people that did acts and stuff,” he says.
They toured the U.S. and Canada for years. He also played the role of Philip Morris`s Cigarette Boy and in 1949 he returned to Hollywood in the movie It`s a Small World.
He`d eventually leave the stage and return to Iowa, working in sales at Montgomery Ward until retirement. Four years ago, he was approached by a man he`d worked with on the set of the Wizard of Oz. The man told him his scenes had been cut from the film.
“I found out then that he was right, so I had to start in telling everyone that I wasn`t in the Wizard of Oz, but a lot of them didn`t believe me.”
The IMDb website still lists him in the cast under his stage name, Paul Dale, and Iowans have been more likely to believe things like that… than Paullin himself.
While it seems Paullin was not in the final cut of the movie another Marshalltown native was… Ruth Smith played the role of a Munchkin Land Villager. She died in 1985.