to some of the not-so-tall tales, many of the 124 adult little people got drunk,
sang choruses of "Ding Dong, The Bitch Is Dead,"
and almost wrecked the hotel. Despite a promise of high wages once filming
of "The Wizard of Oz" was completed, rumors spread that
the tiny cast members might not be paid at all. So, when M-G-M suddenly
announced that the Singer Midgets would also play the roles of the Wicked
Witch's "flying monkeys," many of the little people concluded
that they were being duped, and went on strike against the studio. Among
other alleged Munchkin antics in Culver City: a female Munchkin propositioned
a stagehand, a male little person bit an M-G-M policeman on the leg, and
another one supposedly fell into a toilet at M-G-M and had to be rescued.
(Incidentally, the actor who played the Munchkin leader of the "Lollipop Guild," later appeared as "Buster Brown," for the shoe company of the same name, and as "Little Oscar "- for the hot dog company, Oscar Meyer.)
Over the years, the hotel fell into disrepair, and when I first saw it, I honestly thought it was deserted. But this Hollywood story has a happy ending. in 1997, a new owner bought the property and invested in a major renovation of the historic hotel, adding antique furniture to the rooms and a patio restaurant out front. Once again, the Culver Hotel is back in business and ready for its close-up.
Also, in 1997, almost 60 years after the making of "Oz," the Culver Hotel was the scene of a three-day reunion of the 14 surviving "Munchkins." It was a public event (the city issued a proclamation declaring it "Munchkin Week") including autograph signing, costume party, and the sale of memorabilia.
Other movies have
been shot at this unusual-looking landmark as well, including several Laurel
& Hardy silents, and some of the "Our
Gang" comedies. More recently, the hotel was seen in the Arnold Schwarzenegger
movie "The Last Action Hero"
and in the TV series "Party of Five."
Getting there: (See directions to M-G-M Studios.) The Culver Hotel is located on an island in the middle of the intersection of Washington and Culver Boulevards (just east of Ince Blvd.). / From M-G-M (Sony) Studios, just drive east two blocks up Washington Boulevard, turn left (northeast) at the stop sign, and the hotel will be on your left side.
[For more information about the Culver Hotel, you can check out their official website at: http://www.culverhotel.com.]
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