Missing gingham dress worn by Judy Garland in Wizard of Oz is discovered at ...

Missing gingham dress worn by Judy Garland in Wizard of Oz is discovered at ...
Missing gingham dress worn by Judy Garland in Wizard of Oz is discovered at ...

A staff member at Catholic University found a long-lost staple of Hollywood history in the school’s drama department building: the iconic blue-and-white gingham dress Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz.

For nearly 50 years, staff and students at the Washington, D.C., university have been searching for the famed dress, which was gifted to the school’s drama department in 1973, then disappeared soon after.  

Matt Ripa, a department lecturer and operations coordinator, told the Washington Post that he has been interested in finding the dress from the 1939 film since he began his tenure at the school in 2014.

But on June 7, Ripa was cleaning out the school’s Hartke building to prepare for renovations when he found the dress wrapped in a trash bag. It was tucked on top of the faculty mail slots with a note that said, ‘I found this.’

A staff member at Catholic University was going through the school's drama department building when he found the iconic blue-and-white checked gingham dress Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz

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A staff member at Catholic University was going through the school's drama department building when he found the iconic blue-and-white checked gingham dress Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz

For nearly 50 years, staff and students at the Washington university have been searching for the famed dress, which was gifted to the school’s drama department in 1973

For nearly 50 years, staff and students at the Washington university have been searching for the famed dress, which was gifted to the school’s drama department in 1973

In a statement published in the University Archives blog, Ripa said, 'I was curious what was inside and opened the trash bag and inside was a shoebox and inside the shoebox was the dress. I couldn’t believe it.'

The note on the dress came from Thomas Donahue, a retired drama professor who discovered it in the department chair’s office and knew Ripa had been hoping to find it for years.

Ripa added in the blog post, 'Needless to say, I have found many interesting things in Hartke during my time at Catholic University, but I think this one takes the cake!'

The building is named after the Rev. Gilbert Hartke, the drama department head to whom the dress was first given in 1973. Actress Mercedes McCambridge donated it when she was an artist-in-residence at the university, according to the school’s blog post.

Actress Mercedes McCambridge (left) donated the dress to the Rev. Gilbert Hartke, head of the drama department, (right) when she was an artist-in-residence at the university

 Actress Mercedes McCambridge (left) donated the dress to the Rev. Gilbert Hartke, head of the drama department, (right) when she was an artist-in-residence at the university

The university wrote in a blog that no one knows how Mercedes McCambridge got the dress, but that she was a Hollywood contemporary of Judy Garland’s and that they were supposedly friends

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The university wrote in a blog that no one knows how Mercedes McCambridge got the dress, but that she was a Hollywood contemporary of Judy Garland’s and that they were supposedly friends

McCambridge is known for winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the 1949 film All the King’s Men. She was nominated for the same award for the 1956 film Giant and voiced Pazuzu, the demon from the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist.

When she made the donation almost 50 years ago, the university’s independent newspaper, The Tower, wrote that it was meant to be a source of

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