Serenade by Munchkin is rare, memorable occasion

Karl Slover was one of 124 actors who portrayed Munchkins in the 1939 movie classic The Wizard of Oz, and even helped guide July Garland's character, Dorothy, down the Yellow Brick Road.

There are certain things you never expect to hear in your lifetime, and one for me last week was, "Let's go downstairs and hear the Munchkin sing."


Even weirder, it was said upstairs in North Augusta's Rosemary Hall and Inn by local interior designer Laurie McRae in a room full of clothes once worn by The Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland.

The occasion was the preview party Friday night to open the historic mansion's first-ever Design House held by Rosemary and Lookaway Hall owners Diana and Kelly Combs.

Sure enough, downstairs, former Munchkin actor Karl Slover was sitting in a chair singing, "We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz."

The resident of Dublin, Ga., sang the entire song and had a surprisingly strong voice for being 92 years old. Slover played five roles in the 1939 classic movie, including that of a Munchkin who escorted Dorothy down the Yellow Brick Road.

There originally were 124 actors who played Munchkins in the film, but Slover is among only about five still alive, according to Mike Deas, of Augusta Amusements, who brought Slover to Augusta last July for a screening of the film at Fort Discovery.

Slover was taken to the preview party by Michael Siewert, who owns 18 gowns and various memorabilia of Garland. Visit

The Rosemary Inn Design Show House is open from noon to 6 p.m. today through Sunday and also Tuesday through Nov. 14. Tickets cost $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Call (803) 441-4380.

Admission to Siewert's exhibit, Judy Garland, the Dressing of a Legend, is an extra $5.

Portions of the ticket sales will benefit the nonprofit preservation organizations Historic Augusta Inc. and North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center.

Lunch will be available daily for $12 in Lookaway Hall, prepared by Very Vera, which is owned by the Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay winner Vera Stewart. Reservations are required.

BENEFIT FOR ROD NICKERSON: Our longtime, talented friend Nelson Curry is organizing a concert at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Sky City, 1157 Broad St., to help out his former Le Klass bandmate Rod "Kat Daddy" Nickerson, who is being treated for stomach cancer. Cover charge is $10.

Nickerson, who produced the hit single Dazzey Dukes by the artist Duice, played guitars in the popular local 1980s urban contemporary band that Curry founded.

The show will be rhythm and blues-focused and, besides Curry, will feature Matthew Davis, Playback, TuTu Devine and others. Los Angeles producer Tony Mercedes, who managed Le Klass, is flying back to Augusta to be host of the event.

Mercedes (born A.R. Johnson) originally moved to Augusta when his father, Staff Sgt. David Johnson, was stationed at Fort Gordon. Mercedes has directed more than 30 music videos, with many being in the Christian music field.

FAREWELL, LINDA HARGROVE: Rose Drake, the widow of steel guitar legend Pete Drake, e-mailed me the obituary profile written by Robert Oermann about singer-songwriter Linda Hargrove, who died Oct. 24 at age 61 in Tallahassee, Fla. She had been battling leukemia for many years.

Hargrove was discovered in Nashville, Tenn., by Pete Drake, who signed her to his music publishing company and started using her as guitarist on recording sessions he produced for Waylon Jennings, Mac Davis and others.

Among the many hit songs she wrote or co-wrote were Tennessee Whiskey , recorded separately by George Jones and David Allan Coe; Just Get Up and Close the Door , recorded by Johnny Rodriguez; Let It Shine, recorded by Olivia Newton-John; I've Never Loved Anyone More, recorded by Lynn Anderson; and Half My Heart's in Texas , recorded by Ernest Tubb.

Between 1974 and 1978, she recorded eight charted singles for Elektra, Capitol and RCA Records. Her style of wearing blue jeans when other female artists wore gowns earned her the nickname "Blue Jean Country Queen." That also was the title of her 1974 album.

Hargrove had a great sense of humor and was a wonderful person.

She'll be greatly missed.