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A story behind the ruby slippers

October 31, 2012

Photo by Jared Carlson

The arrival late last week of the ruby slippers Katie Ryerson will wear in Globe Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz brings to mind the most famous slippers of all, the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the 1939 MGM film, and the silver slippers Dorothy Gale wore in the L. Frank Baum novels. That’s right. Silver. The change was made for the movie in order to take full advantage of the Technicolor process, cutting edge at the time.

Five pairs in all were manufactured, to the specifications of costume designer Gilbert Adrian. Once production was completed, the slippers went into storage in the studio’s wardrobe department, not to be seen again until they were auctioned off in 1970. One pair was purchased anonymously for $15,000 US and donated in 1979 to the Smithsonian Institute, and little is known of the others, except that one pair was later sold for $666,000 US and another pair was swiped from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. To the best of my knowledge, the stolen pair has not yet been recovered. If you know different, drop me a line.

 

The Wizard of Oz runs from November 15 – December 30, 2012. Visit the Globe Theatre website for more details, cast information, and to purchase tickets.

Nick Miliokas is a freelance writer and editor based in Regina. You can reach him by email at rozenstern@rocketmail.com.

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