Director of Popular Culture
Classic Hollywood / An Important Costume worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
US$800,000 - US$1,200,000
The simple blue pinafore and blouse worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz is quite simply one of the most iconic and memorable costumes in the history of American cinema.
This is only the second complete final costume with both blue and white pinafore dress and blouse known to be in existence, and one of only five blue and white versions of the pinafore dress made for the film known to be extant. The other example with the blouse was sold at Bonhams in 2015 and had been retained by Kent Warner during his work with David Weisz Co. on the now infamous 1970 M.G.M. auction. The construction of this dress and blouse is exactly the same as the dress sold in 2015, the hook-and-eye closure and construction being identical, with concealed "handkerchief pocket" to the dress and open hem to the bottom of the blouse which would have held a drawstring to hold the blouse in place.
The gingham fabric of the dress being offered here has distinctive characteristics which can be matched to the dress worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy during the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West has captured Dorothy and turns over the hourglass to count down the time towards her death. The Witch leaves and Dorothy is seen crying and talking to the crystal ball before being rescued by the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow.
Although there has been much speculation, it is unknown how many dresses were in fact made for the film or for publicity purposes but, following extensive study of the film and examination of the distinctive and varying patterns of the blue and white gingham on the bodice of the dress, it appears that perhaps only five blue and white dresses are seen in the final version of the film. In fact, this opinion is corroborated by M.G.M. seamstress, Marian Parker, who recalled, 'My job on The Wizard of Oz was Judy Garland's sleeves. We had five or six of those gingham dresses, and Judy was constantly pulling the sleeves out in the back. My job was to get in early in the morning and replace the sleeves on the dresses that had been used the day before'. Indeed, the organdy fabric on the blouse is very delicate, and this example has some damage to the shoulders where the straps of the dress would have rubbed. The blouse offered at Bonhams in 2015 had reinforced shoulders to mitigate this damage. Kent Warner claimed to have found 'at least ten' Dorothy dresses from the film when he was putting together the M.G.M. auction in 1970, but these would have included the differing style of test dresses that were made during the Thorpe and Cukor eras, as well as a muted brown-and-white gingham dress that was used in the opening sepia shots of the movie.
The dress and blouse being offered here were donated to the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. by actress Mercedes McCambridge in 1973. McCambridge was Artist In Residence at the Drama Department at the Catholic University and reportedly gave the costume to her mentor, Father Hartke, who founded the Department of Drama at the University, one of the first such programs in the U.S. Hartke created a touring company, the National Players, who used the Olney Theatre, Maryland, as their base for many years, putting on many highly successful productions which went on to tour internationally. McCambridge credited Father Hartke with helping her through some difficulties with alcoholism and gave the costume to him and the University to benefit the Drama Department. The gift was recorded in an article at the time for the University newspaper, Tower, published March 30, 1973. It is unknown where McCambridge came by the costume but anecdotes from people who knew her suggest that McCambridge owned the dress in the mid-1960s and that she had told them that she obtained the costume directly from the M.G.M. Archives when they were having a clear out of their costumes. McCambridge was a radio and television actress in the 1940s before transitioning to television roles and then landing her first film role in All The King's Men in 1950, which won her an Academy Award® for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She was later nominated for an Academy Award® for her role as Luz Benedict in Giant in 1957.
Since the 1970s, when Father Hartke took custody of the costume, the dress has had a checkered history. There are numerous photographs of Father Hartke with the costume in the 1970s and early 1980s. During that period, it seems that a student fan of the movie snuck into Hartke's office and snipped a small section of the reverse of the dress as a keepsake. When Father Hartke retired in 1986, the costume passed to successive Drama Department Chairs before going missing in the late 1980s. Despite many searches at the University over the intervening years, it was presumed lost.
During the pandemic, a retired Drama Department professor discovered the dress while going through boxes from his former office. In July 2021, the dress and a note from the professor - 'I found this in my office' - was discovered by staff preparing the Hartke Theater for renovations. The costume is now being sold to benefit the Department of Drama, as McCambridge had originally intended.
Condition Report Available on request.
FRICKE, John, SCARFONE, Jay and STILLMAN, William The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History, New York: Warner Books, 1989
STILLMAN, William and SCARFONE, Jay, The Wizardry of Oz, New York: Applause Books, 2004
HARMETZ, Aljean The Making of The Wizard of Oz, New York: Limelight Editions, 1984
THOMAS, Rhys The Ruby Slippers of Oz: Thirty Years Later, New York: Tale Weaver, 1989
This lot has been withdrawn.