I Married a Munchkin

I MARRIED A MUNCHKIN presents the life and times of Mary Ellen St. Aubin, a woman small in stature who lived large. She and her husband, Parnell St. Aubin--one of the original Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz--were in show business for much of their lives, until they retired to run the legendary Midget Club on Chicago's South Side.

00:00Copy video clip URL Slate/bars and tone.

01:47Copy video clip URL A woman dressed as the Wicked Witch introduces us to her daughter, dressed as Dorothy. This is followed by footage of a train and clips from the Wizard of Oz.

02:45Copy video clip URL Filmmaker Tom Palazzolo, running backwards in the rain, sets the scene: “We’re in Chesterton, Indiana, at the Wizard of Oz parade…”

01:41Copy video clip URL Mary Ellen talks about her Chicago upbringing on the Southwest side. “I was the only midget in the family. My mother, father, and sisters were all normal-sized…[the doctor] said, ‘Don’t bother trying to make her grow or anything. Just let her alone, and she’ll be OK.’ That’s what they did, and I’m glad they did.”

03:11Copy video clip URL The parade organizer introduces Palazzolo¬†to a few parade participants and events, including a pie-baking contest and a karate school. “We’re all OK, and we’ll have a beautiful rainbow this afternoon. We hope.”

05:57Copy video clip URL Mary Ellen talks about her husband, Parnell Elmer St. Aubin, who was featured in the 1933 Chicago Fair as ‘Lil Elmer’.

06:32Copy video clip URL Black-and-white film clip from the “Midget Village” at the 1933 Chicago Fair, “where nearly 100 of these little people from all parts of the world live and do business, just like a regular city.” The filmmaker follows Elmer around the Village as he gets a shoe shine and serves drinks at a soda parlor. “You’ll notice that these people have to work twice as hard to serve you as ordinary folks would. They have to reach twice as far, and take twice as many steps. I suppose that’s why they’re twice as cheerful.”

12:48Copy video clip URL Mary Ellen talks about moving away from home as a young woman. She started taking dancing lessons at the age of 8, and shortly afterward found a troupe of dancers at the Englewood Theatre who wanted to take her in.

16:55Copy video clip URL While Mary Ellen was away from home at the age of 19, her mother passed away.

18:19Copy video clip URL Mary Ellen talks about being cast with her dance troupe in the film “Three Wise Fools,” starring Margaret O’Brien, Lionel Barrymore, and Lewis Stone.

18:59Copy video clip URL Mary Ellen talks about meeting her husband. “In 1947, he had called me and he said he had a bar now, and would I come and visit him at the bar… Valentine’s Day, 1948, we got engaged.”

20:23Copy video clip URL “Then we opened a midget club bar. And that was the end of my show business career.”

20:27Copy video clip URL Cut to old footage of Mary Ellen and Parnell’s bar. Parnell is being interviewed behind the counter. “Do you get any reactions from people who aren’t used to coming in here?” “They just stop and look… they don’t know what to say. Then they sit down and get used to us. After that, it’s just like, y’know, any other place.”

21:39Copy video clip URL A former bar patron talks about Parnell’s masterful bartending.

22:34Copy video clip URL Cut to an interview with a much-younger Mary Ellen behind the bar. “I get to meet a lot of nice people. I like people.”

24:20Copy video clip URL Mary Ellen talks about how she and her husband got involved in the Chesterton Wizard of Oz festival. Parnell had been the smallest Munchkin soldier in the Wizard of Oz, and the festival’s organizers tried for many years to get the couple to leave their bar in Chicago. In 1982, the city bought the St. Aubins’ property to build a library, and rather than try to relocate, they retired. The following year, they joined the festival.

27:02Copy video clip URL “[Parnell] was my guy–we both liked the same things, we were both in show business, so we were used to go-go-going, nightlife, working hard all the time,” Mary Ellen remembers.

28:30Copy video clip URL Cut to a “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” sing-along at the Chesterton festival. Mary Ellen and other festival participants wave from the gazebo.

31:23Copy video clip URL “One last stage bow for old times!”

31:54Copy video clip URL Credits.

34:19Copy video clip URL End of program.



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