George Molchan

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) _ George Molchan, who portrayed the Oscar Mayer spokesman Little Oscar for more than three decades and traveled from town to town in the company's Wienermobile, died Tuesday, friends said. He was 82.

Molchan was a bookkeeper for the Pepsi Cola Co. when ``Wizard of Oz'' munchkin actor Meinhardt Raabe convinced him to try out for the role of Little Oscar, said Molchan's brother, Elmer.

He played the character _ created in the 1930s by company founder Oscar Mayer _ at parades and supermarkets for 36 years. Bystanders said Molchan, who loved children, relished the role.

The 27-foot-long Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was parked near Molchan's grave during his memorial service Saturday. Attendees sang a chorus of the Oscar Mayer jingle and then blew short blasts on miniature, hot dog-shaped whistles.