Long thought to be lost somewhere over the rainbow
, an important Tinseltown treasure was discovered.
But, as The Washington Post
reported earlier this month, members of the drama department at Catholic University
of America in Washington, D.C.
, had a hunch that one of Judy Garland
's "Wizard of Oz
" dresses was hidden somewhere on campus.
A story in CUA's student newspaper The Tower in 1973 described a "precious gift" given to the school
by Oscar-winning actor Mercedes McCambridge, who was an artist-in-residence in the university's drama department at the time
and was a "close friend" of Garland, who died in 1969.
McCambridge hoped the blue-and-white checked gingham dress would be a "source of hope, strength, and courage to the students
," according to the article.
Nonetheless, Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator at CUA, had searched everywhere for the garment with no success and was convinced its presence at the school was as real as a flying
That is, until Ripa was cleaning out the building for a renovation on June 7 and came across a trash bag with a note sitting near the faculty mail slots.
Thomas Donahue, a now-retired drama professor, had only written, "I found this," in the note.
“I was curious what was inside and opened the trash bag and inside was a shoebox and inside the shoebox was the dress!!” Ripa recalls in a university archives blog
“I was shocked, holding a piece of Hollywood
history right in my hands,” Ripa told The Washington Post.
This post was shared by Catholic University of America (@catholicuniversity) on Instagram
Soon after the frock was discovered, CUA contacted Ryan Lintelman, an expert in “Wizard of Oz” memorabilia, to determine its authenticity.
Lintelman works as a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
, which houses a pair of sparkling ruby slippers worn by Garland, a complete costume worn by Ray Bolger's Scarecrow, and an original 1938 screenplay based on L. Frank Baum's 1900 book
The curators of the museum do not provide monetary valuations of historical objects, but Lintelman did provide some juicy details about the costume to Smithsonian magazine.
Lintelman told the outlet that he and his colleagues determined that the CUA costume is "one of only six known costumes 'that have a good claim' on being the real deal
The newly discovered costume includes many elements shared by the other five dresses, such as a "secret pocket" where Garland would have kept her handkerchief and the name "Judy Garland" written by hand on the piece, in the same handwriting as the other known dresses.
According to a university press release, CUA now intends to store the garment in “proper storage in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment
The school stated that the dress is "no longer in Kansas