Catholic University has Dorothy’s ‘Oz’ dress. Maybe

Catholic University is hoping it has a piece of cinematic history on its hands.

Catholic University hopes it has one of Judy Garland’s dresses from “The Wizard of Oz.” (Photo Courtesy Catholic University)

The school said it received a gift in 1973 that it believes was a dress worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz,” in a Thursday news release.

It was given to Rev. Gilbert Hartke, then head of the school’s drama program, by actress Mercedes McCambridge, and recently discovered by Matt Ripa, current drama department lecturer and operations coordinator.

He said he found it in a bag on top of the faculty mailboxes.

“I was curious what was inside and opened the bag. Inside was a shoe box, and inside the shoebox was the dress! I couldn’t believe it,” Ripa said in the release.

He handed it over to the university archives after taking some photos.

But don’t click your heels together just yet.

“As archivists, we were obliged to work on gaining additional documentation for this popular culture national treasure,” curator Maria Mazzenga said. “We have several photos of Father Hartke holding the dress, and articles from The Tower and The Washington Post referencing it. So the circumstantial evidence is strong.”

The dress has not yet been verified.

In fact, the school notes in its release that “employees at the museum are not authorized to authenticate objects like this one.”

Five other dresses, not including the one at the university, have been verified as “probably authentic,” according to the release.

The dress will be housed in the school’s special collections.

It’s unknown when someone will peek behind the curtain to confirm the dress’ authenticity.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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