Little people have made great strides in terms of social acceptance in the past several years. There’s no question that society has become more accepting of people that come in all shapes and sizes in this day and age. But their celebration also has a lot to do with the fact that little people have been represented on-screen more recently. It is through the media that the public becomes acquainted with people it ordinarily wouldn’t, as the large and small screens offer a glimpse in other worlds and lifestyles.
When little people are given big roles on camera, it sends the message that they are just as good as anyone else. And it reinforces the notion that one doesn’t have to be a flawless beauty or a muscle bound man to make it in Hollywood. When the acting history of little people is examined, one finds that they have made an important – and interesting – contribution. They’ve played it cute, they’ve played it safe, and they’ve played it cool.
So come with us on a fun journey counting down 15 little people that had big roles on screen. You’ll see some small dreams and larger than life talent. In fact, we bet you didn’t know that there were so many famous little people who played integral roles in some of the most beloved works of our generation.
15 Mini-Me - Austin Powers Movies
Verne Troyer made little people cool again. Not since Warwick Davis gained stardom as Wicket the Ewok and as Willow did a little person so capture the minds of the public. Troyer’s breakout role was as Mini-Me, a miniature clone of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers franchise. At just 2’ 8” tall, Mini-Me stole the show by shrieking “Eeee,” giving the middle finger, and lip synching with Dr. Evil.
14 The Ewoks - Return of the Jedi
13 Oompa-Loompas - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
The Oompa-Loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory are some of the most memorable characters from the movie. In fact, they are arguably more memorable than many other Roald Dahl book characters like Miss Honeybee, Fantastic Mr. Fox and the Twits. The Oompa-Loompas have orange skin and green hair, and wear lederhosen-inspired pants. Aside from their notable appearance, they are most known for their songs. They sang cautionary tales, as well as nifty exit songs as each of the “bad” children” had to leave the factory.
12 Willow - Willow
Warwick Davis caught George Lucas’s eye when he portrayed Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Lucas thought Davis would be perfect for the movie Willow, a fantasy about a race of little people. The movie was released five years after the third installment in the Star Wars franchise. Lucas was insistent that it include little people because, he said, “A lot of my movies are about a little guy against the system, and this was just a more literal interpretation of that idea."
11 Marcus - Bad Santa
Marcus (aka Santa’s Little Helper) is a conman in the movie Bad Santa. He works with Santa (Billy Bob Thornton) to rob stores on Christmas Eve. He’s memorable for his wise cracks as well as his safe-cracking. He easily poses as an elf around Christmas due to his diminutive size, which he uses to his advantage. The same can be said for the actor that plays Marcus, Tony Cox. He played the hand life dealt him, and came out on top.
10 Wee Man - Jackass Movies
Wee Man is the stage name of Jason Acuna, and he is best known for his work on the Jackass franchise. Some of Wee Man’s best stunts included kicking himself in the head, skating while dressed as an Oompa-Loompa and doing deep knee bends with Shaquille O’Neal on his back. And of course no one could forget when Preston would ask people to help him carry his grocery bags – only to give them the surprise of their lives when Wee Man jumped out.
9 Ma Petite - American Horror Story: Freak Show
8 Webster Long - Webster
7 Bridget Powers - Adult Films
6 Arnold Jackson - Diff’rent Strokes
Diff’rent Strokes was an amazing TV show in its heyday, and for years after during its successful syndication. But when you think about it, the show was one big bomb ready to explode. Most of us grew up watching Diff’rent Strokes as children, and then were disillusioned when we realized that Gary Coleman was a teenager playing a ten year old. Then, he shocked us more when he sued his parents. Finally, he enraged us when he began to refuse to utter his catchphrase, “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”
And when the show ended, we even stopped hoping to be adopted by Mr. Drummond because all his “children” became messed up adults. Todd Bridges (Willis) was charged with attempted murder and Dana Plato committed suicide. To make matters worse, we still have nightmares about that “very special episode” where Gordon Jump played a molester.
5 The Leprechaun - Leprechaun
4 Tattoo - Fantasy Island
Tattoo from the show Fantasy Island stood only three feet, 11 inches tall. But he was a major player on the show. He was the loveable sidekick to Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) who was the overseer of the mysterious island. The island was located somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, and guests could live out their wildest fantasies – for a price. Tattoo had a catchphrase, “The plane! The plane!” It was something he shouted to alert Mr. Roarke of the arrival of guests. It was an unlikely catchphrase, but Tattoo delivered it brilliantly with his enthusiasm and French accent. Tattoo was an interesting guy off-camera, as he could be difficult to work with and was reported to have a habit of propositioning women.
3 Mickey Abbott - Seinfeld
Mickey Abbott from Seinfeld appeared in several episodes of the iconic show. He met Kramer while the two were working as stand-ins on a soap opera. The two of them had some great times, including double dating, acting as ill patients to train med students, and working alongside one another in Santa’s Village. Mickey led an interesting life. Although he wasn’t a series regular, he did have a developed backstory. His father was a dentist, he’d been divorced many times, and he had two kids in college.
2 Tyrion Lannister - Game of Thrones
1 The Munchkins - The Wizard of Oz
No list about little people in show business would be complete without including the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. MGM hired 124 little people to play them, but even that wasn’t enough to fill Munchkinland. The studio had to hire at least a dozen children to fill in. The Munchkins have long been a fan favorite, from the Lollipop Guild members to the Lullaby League. They were so popular that they were even granted their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What remains in the backs of everyone’s minds, though, is the Tinseltown lore about the Munchkins. The claim that a little person committed suicide on set has been debunked, but rumors still run rampant about their giant parties which were filled with booze, loose women and knives.
In the credits of The Wizard of Oz, they were simply billed as “The Munchkins.” No doubt this was symptomatic of the times. However, researchers have compiled mountains of information on their real identities and even interviewed over thirty living Munchkins. Now, only one Munchkin is still with us. His name is Jerry Maren (96), and he was in the Lollipop Guild.
Sources: IMDB, Wikipedia, ETOnline, Mirror
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