The Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic films of our lifetimes. Not only was it the first film to feature color, but it also built up a magical world never seen before by audiences of that time period. Many items of the famed movie have found their way into museums, but one prop remained missing: Judy Garland's famed blue dress.
The Catholic University of America allegedly housed the missing dress for decades. The last time it was seen was when actress Mercedes McCambridge delivered the dress to the drama department in 1972. The dress went missing soon after. The mystery of the dress became lore at the school, and students were left wondering whether or not it was truly somewhere on campus.
Matt Ripa, lecturer, and operations coordinator at the school, made it his passion to try and find the dress. He heard a rumor that the dress was somewhere in the school's Hartke building.
"I had looked in our archives, storage closets, etc. to no avail. I assumed it was a tall tale," he said in a Catholic University press release.
Eventually, the building started to undergo renovations. One day, Ripa noticed a trash bag on top of faculty mailboxes. With the dress always on the forefront of his mind, he figured to check the bag. He saw the dress the moment he opened it, sitting neatly on top of other drama department items.
"All of the dresses have certain verifiable characteristics: 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, for example," the university said. "The Hartke dress has all of these characteristics, including blouse tears where the pinafore straps sat on the shoulders."
The dress will be stored in the university's special collections in a temperature-controlled facility.