The Odyssey of the Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers

Ruby Slippers

Photo: Dorothy (Judy Garland) is wearing the ruby slippers. But which pair?


Reuters is reporting that Profiles in History is auctioning off one of the pairs of ruby slippers used in “The Wizard of Oz.” Auction house owner Joe Maddalena estimates the sale price at $2 million to $3 million.

Readers with long memories may recall a monumental two-part series by Rhys Thomas that Calendar published in 1988 about the intrigue surrounding the various pairs of ruby slippers. The series is one of the longest from the Irv Letofsky era and it’s worth revisiting as a reminder of Calendar’s golden age.

The story of the slippers – perhaps as many as seven pairs – begins with Hollywood costumer  Kent Warner (d. 1984):

Warner’s fascination with the shoes–and countless other pieces of Hollywood memorabilia–took on bizarre dimensions–of questionable legality. He apparently lavished more love and attention on a nearly flawless pair of the ruby slippers displayed in his living room than on almost anything else in his life. He held special screenings of famous films in his home in which he paraded in vintage dresses from the very movies he was showing–costumes acquired from dusty studio storage vaults or rescued from dumpsters and incinerators.

Warner, whose everyday work took him in search of clothes for movie stars, almost single-handedly started a shady memorabilia market in Hollywood by mastering the art of what he might have thought of as rescuing the forgotten treasures from the studios. Sources say he walked onto the MGM lot one spring day in 1970 with an empty, seemingly innocent duffle bag–and left with it full of sequinned red shoes.

The Ruby Slippers: A Journey to the Land of Oz Part 1 | Part 2 

Thomas later wrote a 1989 book on the slippers,  “The Ruby Slippers of Oz.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1939, Fashion, Film, History, Hollywood, Preservation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Odyssey of the Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers

  1. I attended all three days of the bittersweet MGM auction. As I recall, six pairs of those fabled Ruby Slippers were offered up. And they were only six of thousands of dream costumes and props on parade. The experience of being there was sad and thrilling at once.

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