You’ve always had the power, my dear. You’ve had it all along. – Glinda, the Good Witch, Wizard of Oz
In was a tradition in the UK for the BBC to show the film “The Wizard of Oz” every Christmas and in the days of only 3 channels most of the TV watching public tuned in. Every little girl of my generation dreamt of owning a pair of ruby slippers. Does this explain why so many women collect shoes?
Because of their iconic stature, the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland are now among the most treasured and valuable film memorabilia in movie history. The silver slippers that Dorothy wore in the book series were changed to ruby to take advantage of the new Technicolor process. Adrian, MGM’s chief costume designer, was responsible for the final design.
There are four pairs of “screen used” Ruby Slippers known to have survived the seventy years since the making of The Wizard of Oz. One pair is the center piece of the Icons of American Culture exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and is one of the most asked about artifacts at the museum. So viewed are these slippers that the carpet in front of them has had to be replaced numerous times due to the crush of shoes that have brought visitors from all over the world to see their glimmer. Another pair was unfortunately stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and will likely never be recovered. The third pair is in private hands.
The fourth pair are marked on the inside lining, “#7 Judy Garland” and the leather soles are painted red on the bottom. The lack of felt, in addition to light, circular scuffs evident on the soles indicate their use in the extra-close-up or “insert” shots when Judy Garland taps her heels together at the film’s climax.
After filming, the shoes were stored among the studio’s extensive collection of costumes and faded from attention. They were found in the basement of MGM’s wardrobe department during preparations for a mammoth auction in 1970. One pair was the highlight of the auction, going for a then unheard of $15,000 to an anonymous buyer, who apparently donated them to the Smithsonian Institution in 1979. Four other pairs are known to exist; one sold for $666,000 at auction in 2000. A pair was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and remains missing.
Another, differently styled pair not used in the film was sold at auction with the rest of her collections by owner actress Debbie Reynolds for $510,000 (not including the buyer’s premium) in June 2011.
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