It seems that a significant piece of Hollywood history was just discovered laying around the drama department of The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. What is believed to be a dress that Judy Garland wore to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was found laying on some mailboxes.
Lecturer Matt Ripa had long heard that there were rumors that this piece of memorabilia was located somewhere in the Hartke building on campus, so he had spent hours hunting around to see if he really could find Dorothy Gale's long lost dress.
Just when he was starting to think he was searching in vain, he spotted a bag on top of the mailboxes.
"I was curious what was inside and opened the bag. Inside was a shoebox, and inside the shoebox was the dress! I couldn't believe it," Ripa said.
"My co-worker and I quickly grabbed some gloves and looked at the dress and took some pictures before putting it back in the box and heading over to the (University) Archives. Needless to say, I have found many interesting things in Hartke during my time at Catholic University, but I think this one takes the cake!"
Catholic University's Tower newspaper wrote in 1973 that Dorothy's dress had been a gift from actress Mercedes McCambridge, who had worked as an artist in residence the prior year, to drama head Rev. Gilbert Hartke. Father Hartke's gift was meant to inspire "hope, strength, and courage" among the university students.
Over the years, numerous Dorothy costumes have been discovered decades after the classic movie was released, and according to the university, this new find has strong characteristics that prove its authenticity. It's no wonder this is an exciting find...the dress is as iconic to the character as Dorothy's ruby slippers.
"All of the dresses have certain verifiable characteristics, including, for example, a 'secret pocket' on the right side of the pinafore skirt for Dorothy's handkerchief, 'Judy Garland' written by hand in a script specific to a single person who labeled all of the extant dresses in the same hand. Apparently, the thin material of the blouse was prone to tearing when Garland took it off after filming, and a seamstress often repaired it before she donned it for the next shoot," the university said in a release.
The dress is currently being preserved in the university's special collections for safekeeping in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment.
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