Judy Garland’s missing Wizard of Oz dress found in bin bag after 40 years

The legendary cinematic garment was found when a member of staff at a US university was cleaning out his office

<p>Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz</p>

Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz

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One of the iconic blue gingham dresses worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz was recently uncovered in a bin bag after disappearing over 40 years ago.

The dress was gifted to Father Gilbert Hartke, the former head of the drama department at the Catholic University of America (CUA), in the 1970s, but is said to have mysteriously gone missing shortly after its arrival at the Washington DC campus.

Lecturer and operations coordinator at the institution, Matt Ripa, said he heard rumours that the dress “was located somewhere in the building” but was unable to “get confirmation on exactly where it was located”.

An office clear-out resulted in the discovery of one of cinema’s most recognisable dresses, however.

“I had looked in our archives, storage closets, etc. to no avail. I assumed it was a tall tale (of which many exist for Father Hartke),” Ripa told the university.

“Our building is in the process of renovations and upgrades, so I was cleaning out my office to prepare,” he explained.“

“I noticed on top of the faculty mailboxes a trashbag and asked my co-worker to hand it to me.

“On the trashbag was a note for our former chair stating that he had found 'this' in his office and that he must have moved it when he moved out of the chair's office… I was curious what was inside and opened the trashbag and inside was a shoebox and inside the shoe box was the dress!! I couldn't believe it.”

Ripa swiftly donned protective gloves to examine the garment, before passing it over to the university’s archives.

“I have found many interesting things in the Hartke during my time at CUA, but I think this one takes the cake,” he said.

In addition to the find at CUA, five other versions of the dress have been found and verified as having “a good claim” on being authentic, researchers from the Smithsonian told the school.

The dress features a unique “secret pocket” where Garland kept her handkerchief, and the actor’s name is also written on the garment in the same handwriting that appears on the other known costumes.

The dress will now be housed in the university’s special collections department.

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