A long-lost garment worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz was discovered in a box at a university in Washington, D.C., decades later.
Catholic University announced in a news release that the dress, which was gifted to the school nearly 50 years ago by actress Mercedes McCambridge while she was serving as the drama department’s artist-in-residence, was found by drama department lecturer Matt Ripa in a box placed atop some mail slots near his desk.
After learning about the long-lost artefact in 2014, Ripa claimed he went hunting for it in his spare time, but he was reportedly beaten to the discovery by Thomas Donahue, a now-retired theatre professor who had left the box in Ripa’s office before departing the school last year.
Ripa believes the box was put above the mail slots by someone, leading it to go unnoticed until last month.
“As soon as I popped the top off the box, I knew what it was,” Ripa told The Washington Post. “I saw that blue gingham and I just started laughing and laughing. I mean, I’m still laughing. Because I was shocked, holding a piece of Hollywood history right in my hands.”
The school contacted Ryan Lintelman, entertainment curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History, to confirm the authenticity of the outfit. Lintelman and two colleagues inspected the clothing and concluded it to be authentic.
According to Lintelman, this is the sixth known variation of Dorothy’s outfit from the 1939 picture.