The Wizard of Oz movie which was released in 1939 was an early example of the beauty of Technicolor film technology. The excellent design of the now legendary blue-and-white checkered dress and sparkling ruby slippers that were worn by a young Judy Garland, was specifically designed with Technicolor in mind.
The whole costume is seen as some of the most valuable movie memorabilia but unfortunately, only the slippers and blouse are accounted for as the pinafore dress has been lost for several decades.
Back in the 1970s it was said that an actress named Mercedes McCambridge who was an artist-in-residence at Catholic University reportedly donated a blouse and blue pinafore dress worn by Garland on set to the drama school, which was then under the direction of Reverend Gilbert Hartke. However, after years of struggling to locate the dress, the Department of Drama lecturer Matt Ripa at the Catholic University of America revealed in a shocking announcement that he has stumbled upon the legendary outfit in a surprising location.
In June 2021, Ripa was busy clearing out items of a drama building on campus to prepare for new renovations set to happen. Ripa stumbled on a plastic bag perched above the faculty mailboxes which contained a shoebox. Upon opening the shoebox Ripa discovered the white blouse and checked dress in 16-year-old Garland's petite size.
Talking to The Washington Post, Ripa explained, “I was shocked, holding a piece of Hollywood history right in my hands.” Ripa and a colleague then pursued to examine the dress by using gloves for the fabric's safety. They then decided to contacted the University Archives and the curators there set to work on authenticating the find.
Upon searching if they had found the real dress that has been missing for years, they discovered and recorded images of Reverend Hartke receiving the dress. Curator Maria Mazzenga reached out to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History which is now the house of the famous ruby slippers.
The Smithsonian experts explained that five authentic dresses exist from the 1939 film set, each having a tell-tale secret pockets for a handkerchief and boast mended rips placed in the blouse which was reportedly fragile.
Judy Garland's name was also written inside a label in all five dresses. While the Smithsonian does not officially authenticate items outside its collection, the experts indicated that the dress is likely authentic and will now officially be recognised as such by the university. The full wardrobe will be displayed among the archival collections.