Wizard of Oz Munchkin Betty Ann Bruno dead aged 91

KTVU honour former reporter Betty Ann Bruno

News of the revered television reporter’s death erupted on Monday, leading to an outpouring of grief from her fans and journalism peers.

Bruno’s death was announced by her old station, KTVU in the Bay Area, who said she passed at her home in Sonoma, California.

The Santa Rosa, California publication The Press Democrat reported that the former actress was dancing at the Sonoma Women’s Club on Sunday, when she developed a, “sudden splitting headache.’

Her husband, Craig Scheiner, took her to the hospital, but when they got to the front desk, “she had a massive heart attack and collapsed on the floor.”

Of his wife’s death, Scheiner told The Sonoma Index-Tribune: “She had no major health issues. Her heart just wore out. She died of old age.”

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The Your History Your Story podcast took to Twitter to pay a touching tribute to the late TV star, saying she died doing what “she loved”, teaching hula dancing.

The post read: “The world lost a true legend yesterday (7/30/23). Our dear friend Betty Ann Bruno passed away and we will miss our conversations with her.

“We had the honor of interviewing her about two years ago and have stayed in touch ever since.

“She was an amazing woman who was a child actor and played a munchkin on the Wizard of Oz.”

The podcast continued: “She went on to be a news reporter and up until the day she passed, Betty Ann was doing what she loved, and that was teaching hula dancing.

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“We will miss you, but never forget the impact you’ve had on our lives.”

Bruno was reportedly among only four other child actors from The Wizard of Oz who are still alive.

Following the release of the film, Bruno decided to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, and after joining the Oakland League of Women Voters, KTVU hired her in 1971 to write for the 10 O’clock News program.

Bruno won three Emmy Awards during her two decades at KTVU, for breaking news, news-feature series and investigative series.

She retired from television news in 1992 and moved to Sonoma, where she opened Hula Mai in 2009, where she taught hula dancing.

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