Elly Annie Schneider made her screen debut in the 1927 Lauren and Hardy short, “Sailors, Beware.” But her claim to fame came 12 years later when she and three of her siblings — Harry Doll, Daisy Doll and Grace Doll — appeared in the family classic “The Wizard of Oz.”
Born in Stolpen, Germany, Schneider was the youngest of nine children. When she moved to the Sarasota, Fla., in 1925, the diminutive actress wanted to work in show business. But at 39 inches tall, her options in Hollywood were fairly limited. So she performed in the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus and in the Christiana Bros. Circus with her brother and sisters in an act known as “The Doll Family.” Under the screen names Tiny Earles and Tiny Doll, Schneider also took bit parts in the films “Special Delivery,” “Three-Ring Marriage,” “Be Big” and the 1932 cult classic “Freaks.”
The Doll Family traveled to California in 1939 to work on “The Wizard of Oz.” All four played members of the Munchkin cast that sang and welcomed Dorothy (Judy Garland) to Munchkinland. Schneider and her siblings then returned to Florida, and to circus life. They continued performing until the late-1950s. Grace died in 1970, Daisy in 1980 and Harry in 1985.
Schneider, 90, died on Sept. 6 of heart failure. With her passing, only nine members of the original 124 Munchkins cast remain.