There's no place like home, and Judy Garland's dress just turned up at its rightful residence. Last month, the iconic blue and white Dorothy dress from Wizard of Oz was rediscovered after it went missing decades ago.
For years, rumors swirled Washington, D.C.'s Catholic University that the institution's drama program head, Father Gilbert Hartke, was gifted Dorothy's dress, worn by Judy Garland, and that the dress was somewhere on campus. Reportedly, actress Mercedes McCambridge, who served as artist-in-residence at the University in 1972, originally gave Hartke the costume. However, decades of searching came up short—that is, until recently.
Matt Ripa, Lecturer and Operations Coordinator at the Drama Department, had previously looked around the drama offices for the dress to no avail. But, while cleaning out his space in preparation for building renovations, Ripa discovered a trash bag on top of the faculty mailboxes.
"On the trash bag was a note for our former chair stating that he had found ‘this’ in his office and that he must have moved it when he moved out of the chair’s office…," Ripa wrote on the University blog. "I was curious what was inside and opened the trash bag and inside was a shoebox and inside the shoe box was the dress!! I couldn’t believe it."
Ripa and his colleague quickly snapped some photos before returning the dress to the University archives. He wrote, "My co-worker and I quickly grabbed some gloves and looked at the dress and took some pictures before putting it back in the box and heading over to the archives. I called one of our faculty members and former chair, who always told me the dress existed and that it was in the building to let her know that I had found it."
The gingham dress, which actually consists of two parts—a cotton blouse and pinafore dress worn overtop, is one of the most famous costumes in movie history. It also contains some hidden features. Garland's name is handwritten on the interior of the dress, per the Smithsonian, "in the same handwriting that appears on other known costumes." Additionally, the garment "features a characteristic 'secret pocket' where Garland stored her handkerchief."
Garland's costume will now be stored properly, in the University’s Special Collections, with both temperature and humidity controls. The blue and white gingham dress is not the only piece of Dorothy's costume that has gone missing. The iconic ruby slippers were stolen in ruby slippers were stolen 2o05, from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. The shoes, one of four identical pairs featured in the movie, were taken when someone smashed through a display case and grabbed them. Luckily, the shoes were returned to the FBI in 2018.
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