Judy’s dress was missing for four decades (Picture: Mgm/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)
There’s no place like home – and that rings true for clothes as well as people.
The iconic blue gingham dress that was worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard Of Oz has been found in a shoebox after being missing for four decades.
There were a number of Dorothy’s dresses made for the 1939 musical, and one of them was gifted to Father Gilbert Hartke, the former head of the drama department at Catholic University, in the 1970s.
However, the frock went missing just a year after arriving at the Washington DC university.
Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator for the drama department, took it upon himself to try and find the dress, saying: ‘I had looked in our archives, storage closets, etc. to no avail. I assumed it was a tall tale (of which many exist for Father Hartke).’
Ripa had nearly given up when a trashbag containing a shoebox was given to him during office renovations in June.
In a post published by the university, he shared: ‘Our building is in the process of renovations and upgrades, so I was cleaning out my office to prepare. I noticed on top of the faculty mailboxes a trashbag and asked my co-worker to hand it to me. On the trashbag 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…
‘I was curious what was inside and opened the trashbag and inside was a shoebox and inside the shoe box was the dress!! I couldn’t believe it.’
The dress was found in a shoebox (Picture: The Catholic University of America)
The dress shares characteristics with other verified costumes (Picture: The Catholic University of America)
Ripa got gloves to examine the dress before bringing it to the archival department, and said: ‘Needless to say, I have found many interesting things in the Hartke during my time at CUA, but I think this one takes the cake.’
The dress will be kept in Catholic University’s special collections departments.
While experts at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History are not authorised to verify the dress, they told the university that details in the dress – including a ‘secret pocket’ on the pinafore skirt for Dorothy’s handkerchief and Judy’s name handwritten inside the dress – are consistent with five other dresses which have been verified as likely authentic.
Considering The Wizard Of Oz was filmed over 80 years ago, it’s probably not surprising that many parts of the iconic costumes have gone missing over the years.
In 2005, one of the pairs of Dorothy’s ruby slippers were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in the actress’s birthplace of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Judy’s slippers have also gone missing over the years (Picture: Mgm/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)
The slippers remained lost for over a decade, until 2017, when the Grand Rapids Police Department got the FBI involved in the case after a tip came forward that turned into a potential case of extortion.
The FBI got the slippers back from a recovery operation in Minneapolis.
More: Judy Garland
Judy was just 17 years old when she was cast as Dorothy Gale in MGM’s epic fantasy film, which followed a young girl whose house in sepia-toned Kansas lands in the Technicolour Land of Oz after a cyclone.
Here, she meets Glinda the Good Witch, the Munchkins, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and the Cowardt Lion, who all make their way to meet the Wizard of Oz to fulfil their desires – from wanting to return home to wanting a heart.