Swensen had regularly attended Wizard of Oz festivals. He was among seven of the surviving actors who played the inhabitants of Munchkinland present when the Munchkins received a collective star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.
He grew up in Austin, Texas. He was not allowed to attend public schools until he was nine - because of his size.
Swensen became a movie star, contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in the late 1930s after he was discovered as part of The Stanley R. Graham All Midget Circus.