Catholic University to auction off Judy Garland’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ dress

The long-missing dress that Judy Garland wore in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” — rediscovered last July at Catholic University — is headed for auction.

The blue-and-white gingham dress, paired with the ruby red slippers, make up one of the most iconic costumes in film history. The dress, given to the school in 1973 by actress Mercedes McCambridge, had been misplaced since last summer, when a faculty member found it atop faculty mailboxes in the school’s Rome School of Music, Drama and Art.

Catholic University said in a news release that careful analysis from the auction house Bonhams — using film slides of the movie and relying on stitching and the dress’s hem — have concluded it’s not just one of the authentic costumes used in the film, but the only one in existence known to have been worn by the star.

A dress worn by Judy Garland in her role as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” will be auctioned to help establish a new film acting program. (Courtesy Catholic University)

Other similar dresses may have been used by stand-in actresses.

“They were able to identify this dress as being the actual dress that was worn by Judy Garland in the scene where she is in the witch’s castle … this is the only one that has been able to be identified that was actually worn by Judy Garland in the movie, so it’s really remarkable,” said Rome School of Music, Drama and Arts Dean Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw.

The auction is scheduled to take place May 24 at Bonham’s in Los Angeles.

“We are thinking that we will be able to get about $1.5 million to $2 million for this,” Leary-Warsaw said. “That’s what we’re hoping for, and based on previous auctions of other Dorothy dresses, we think that’s a fair estimate.”

He added: “There’s a lot of buzz, there’s a lot of excitement and I think a lot of people have their eye on this incredible artifact.”

Catholic University hopes to use the money from the sale of Dorothy’s dress to help establish a film acting program on its D.C. campus.

“What comes of this auction really will have a lasting impact for decades for our students,” said Leary-Warsaw.

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Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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