Dorothy’s dress from ‘Wizard of Oz’ is for sale

NEW YORK – It’s one of the most recognizable outfits in American movie history, the blue and white checkered gingham dress worn by a young Judy Garland as Dorothy in the classic 1939 film ‘The Magician of Oz”.

For decades, one of the versions of the dress Garland wore in the film was assumed to be lost at the Catholic University of America, where it was given to someone in the drama department in the early 1960s. 1970. But clearing some offices last year led to the discovery of the dress in an old shoebox, and now it’s heading to auction.

When she first saw it, “all I could think about was watching the movie as a kid and growing up with it,” said music school dean Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw. in Theater and Art from the Catholic University of Washington. , DC “In a way, it was like looking back at my childhood past.”

She and others are hoping the nostalgia factor kicks in when the costume goes up for auction at Bonhams “Classic Hollywood: Film and Television” on May 24 in Los Angeles, where it has a pre-sale estimate of $800,000 at $1.2 million. Bonhams is displaying the dress this week at the auction house‘s New York facility before it is sent to California for public viewing and auction.

Helen Hall, director of popular culture for Bonhams, said the market for memorabilia, and film costumes in particular, is strong and “The Wizard of Oz” is a cultural touchstone.

People “remember very well the first time they saw the film, the effect it had on their lives,” she said. The film is renowned for its music, dialogue, and visuals, especially as Dorothy transitions from dull, sepia-toned Kansas to gloriously multicolored Oz.

The Tin Man (Jack Haley), Dorothy (Judy Garland) and the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) embark on their quest for fulfillment in the children’s classic ‘The Wizard of Oz’, directed by Victor Fleming for MGM, 1939 .

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There was more than one costume made for Garland during filming. Hall said four are known to exist and only two, including the one found at Catholic University, are with the blouse she wore underneath. Bonhams sold the other with a blouse at an auction in 2015 for more than $1.5 million.

(There are also a few surviving pairs of the ruby ​​slippers Garland wore, along with a pair in the Smithsonian’s collection.)

The rediscovered dress was originally given to Father Gilbert Hartke, then head of the university’s drama department, in 1973 by actress Mercedes McCambridge, Leary-Warsaw said, although it’s unclear how McCambridge came to have it.

Somehow, in the years that followed, the department lost track of the costume until it became “something that people thought was just a myth,” he said. she declared. Last year, during preparations for a renovation, a bag containing the shoebox was opened, and there it was – although how it got to where it ended up remains a mystery, said Leary-Warsaw.

The dress was in good condition, apart from a piece that had been cut, while the blouse was more fragile.

While researching the dress, it was determined that Garland wore it in the film in the scene where she is confronted in a castle by a menacing Wicked Witch of the West.

The school has decided to auction it off instead of keeping it, and plans to use the proceeds from the auction to create a full-fledged film program in the theater department.

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Laura J. Boyer