Judy Garland’s missing ‘Wizard of Oz’ dress found decades later

There’s no place like Catholic University when a long-lost Hollywood artifact is discovered.

Judy Garland’s iconic Dorothy Gale blue gingham dress, which went mysteriously missing a year after it was gifted in 1972, was unearthed on campus last month, the Washington, DC, university announced.

Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator for drama and music at the Catholic University of America, was decluttering a space in the Hartke building when he stumbled across the precious “Wizard of Oz” costume.

While he was cleaning, Ripa spotted a trash bag on top of a set of mailboxes and was curious as to what was inside. To his surprise, it was a shoebox containing the blue-and-white dress.

Judy Garland's gingham dress
Matt Ripa discovered the aging iconic costume hidden in a shoebox.
Catholic University

“I couldn’t believe it,” Ripa said in the blog post. “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 yellowing dress included Garland’s name handwritten on the interior and a hidden pocket where the actress supposedly stored her handkerchief, according to Smithsonian magazine.

The dress also includes Judy Garland's signature inside.
The dress also includes Judy Garland’s name handwritten on the interior.
Catholic University

Actress Mercedes McCambridge, who also served as an artist-in-residence at the university, gave one of Garland’s on-screen dresses to the Catholic University in 1972. But approximately one year later, it disappeared. Despite an extensive search, it was never found — until now.

The university will keep the dress safe from now on in its archives.

Wizard of Oz still
Judy Garland (left, in a scene with Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West) wore the classic blue gingham dress in “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939.
FilmPublicityArchive/United Arch

Garland’s dress not only told the tale of the yellow brick road but also added a surprising chapter to an extensive history of other missing pieces of her iconic costume.

In 2005, her ruby slippers were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota when someone smashed through a display case to snag the million-dollar kicks. They were one of four identical pairs featured in “The Wizard of Oz.”

But 13 years later, the pair of red heels that transported Dorothy and Toto back home were returned by the FBI in 2018.

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