Judy Garland’s “Wizard of Oz” Dress Was Just Found in a Trash Bag

Look like Wizard of Oz is considered one of the best movies of all time, you’d think anything from the movie’s setting would be kept safe. Not so. According to the report of Everybody, one of the iconic gingham dresses Judy Garland put on Wizard of Oz was found in June after going missing since the 70s. Where is it? In a trash bag.

The story concerns the dress’s gift to a professor more than 40 years ago, its mysterious disappearance, and its reappearance during a routine cleanup. Continue reading to learn more about how the dress got lost and what happens to it now.

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Mercedes McCambridge in a public photo from the 1950s
De Carvalho Collection / Getty Images

An account written by Maria Mazzenga, PhD on Catholic University of America website tell the whole story about how the dress was lost and found. Cast Mercedes McCambridge (All the king’s men, Giant) was an artist at Catholic University in 1972 and 1973. She owned one of the gingham dresses — several of them — that Garland wore while playing Dorothy Gale. Wizard of Oz.

Mazzenga explains that it is unknown how McCambridge came to have the dress – although she is said to be friends with Garland – but she gave it to Father Gilbert Hartke, who heads the university’s drama program. Hartke is known for her eccentric style and interest in fashion.

The Tin Man, Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion in
Warner Bros. Entertainment / YouTube

Hartke died in 1986, and there have long been rumors in the school that the dress was somewhere on campus. “I was never able to confirm its exact location,” explains Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator of the drama department, in Mazzenga’s story. “I’ve looked in our archives, lockers, etc. to no avail. I suppose it’s a sublime story (of which many exist for Father Hartke).”

But, as the drama department building was being cleaned up before the renovation, Ripa noticed a trash bag on the top of the faculty mailbox. “On the trash bag there was a note for our old chair saying he found ‘this’ in his office and he must have delivered it when he moved out of the host’s office.. I was curious what was inside and opened the trash bag.” and inside is a shoebox and inside the shoebox is a dress!! I can not believe it. “

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A dress from "Wizard of Oz" at Julien's Auction Gallery in 2012
Mark Sullivan / WireImage via Getty Images

Ripa put on gloves to examine the dress and photograph it, and it was then examined by experts from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which houses other American memorabilia. Wizard of Oz. While the Catholic University article noted that museum staff were not authorized to officially authenticate the dress, they found it in line with what would be expected from a dress used in the film. For example, it has Garland’s name written inside, a secret pocket sewn into all of the stars’ dresses, and proof of tailoring that matches the film’s history.

Ruby slippers from
Image Kris Connor / Getty

The gingham dress is now in the Catholic University Special Collection, where it is properly stored in a temperature-controlled environment — not in a trash bag. For other parts of Wizard of Oz Historically, five similar dresses have been verified as “probably genuine”, according to the university. A dress Sold in an auction for $1.5 million in 2015.

The National Museum of American History is home to some other parts from the movie, including a pair of Dorothy rubies, an original script, and a Scarecrow costume.

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