Judy Garland's Long-Lost 'Wizard of Oz' Dress Found Decades Later At University Drama Department

Judy Garland's Long-Lost 'Wizard of Oz' Dress Found Decades Later At University Drama Department

The iconic dress is believed to have been worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in the 1939 classic.

Judy Garland's role as Dorothy in the classic 1939 movie, Wizard of Oz, is surely iconic for both the acting and apparel. From Dorothy’s ruby slippers to her hair to even her dress, the character has made a huge impact in pop culture. A pair of mismatched slippers was even placed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “The ruby slippers are among the most requested objects when visitors come to the museum,” said Ryan Lintelman, curator for entertainment at the museum, according to EW. “One of the great national icons of America has become the ruby slippers.”



Now it looks like Dorothy's dress is also certainly not in Kansas anymore. Back in 1972, actress Mercedes McCambridge reportedly gave the Catholic University of America a dress worn by Judy Garland in the movie, according to Good Morning America. For decades, the dress had disappeared and students and faculty had no idea where it went. Until now.


Matt Ripa, lecturer and operations coordinator of the university, heard rumors that the dress was in the Hartke building where he worked. "I had looked in our archives, storage closets, etc. to no avail. I assumed it was a tall tale," he said in a Catholic University press release. But when the building began doing "renovations and upgrades," he spotted a bag on top of the mailboxes. "I was curious what was inside and opened the bag. Inside was a shoebox, and inside the shoebox was the dress! I couldn't believe it," Ripa said. "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 (University) Archives. Needless to say, I have found many interesting things in Hartke during my time at Catholic University, but I think this one takes the cake!"



To confirm the dress's authenticity, the university spoke with an expert. Ryan Lintelman is well-versed in the Wizard of Oz memorabilia at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. He believes that the characteristics of the found dress align with the original dresses Garland wore in the movie. "All of the dresses have certain verifiable characteristics: a 'secret pocket' on the right side of the pinafore skirt for Dorothy's handkerchief, 'Judy Garland' written by hand in a script specific to a single person who labeled all of the extant dresses in the same hand, for example," the university said. "The Hartke dress has all of these characteristics, including blouse tears where the pinafore straps sat on the shoulders."



For those who are wondering where they can find the dress, the university will store it in its special collections for generations of future Catholic University students. "Dorothy's Wizard of Oz dress, once the province of myth, is now a real object," the university said. "It can now be preserved in proper storage in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment so that hopefully, for many more years, it can be a source of 'hope, strength, and courage' for Catholic University students."