Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: Dorothy's ruby slippers
Rhodri Marsden is the Technology Columnist for The Independent; he has also written about crumpets, Captain Beefheart, rude place names and string. He's also a musician who plays in the band Scritti Politti, and won the under-10 piano category at the 1980 Watford Music Festival by playing a piece called "Silver Trumpets" with verve and aplomb.
Saturday 23 August 2014
* "Give me back my slippers!" shrieked the Wicked Witch of the West, as they disappeared from her colleague's feet and magically appeared on Dorothy's feet. The premiere of The Wizard of Oz took place 75 years ago this week; those ruby slippers would become the most famous shoes in Hollywood history.
* L Frank Baum's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, referred to "silver shoes with pointed toes", but when Noel Langley wrote the screenplay he added the following stage direction: "The ruby shoes appear on Dorothy's feet, glittering and sparkling in the sun".
* Freudian analysts claim that the ruby shoes were intended to symbolise Dorothy's progression into puberty, but it was simply because silver shoes didn't look sufficiently spectacular in Technicolor.
* Between six and 10 pairs of slippers were made for Judy Garland and her stunt double, Bobbie Koshay, but fewer than five are accounted for. There's the 'Arabian test pair' with upturned toes, which only ever appeared in photos. There's the pair known as 'The People's Shoes', donated anonymously to the Smithsonian in 1979 and exhibited at the V&A in 2012. One pair were stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota, never to be recovered. And there's the 'Witch's Slippers', the first pair seen in the film, which were bought for an undisclosed sum in 2012 (thanks to donations from, among others, Steven Spielberg) and presented to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
* Lady Gaga also claimed to have received a pair for her 25th birthday that were worth $40,000. But the shoes themselves – white pumps, dyed red and with 2,300 sequins attached – only cost around $15 to make. No wonder the Witch wanted them back, eh.
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