Decades of searching turned up nothing, then one administrator stumbled upon it by accident.
Administrators at the Catholic University of America have discovered a rare piece of Hollywood memorabilia. While preparing for renovations to Catholic University of America’s Hartke Theatre, they stumbled upon the dress worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. The iconic blue and white gingham dress had been missing for nearly 50 years.
The dress was long rumored to be in the possession of the CUA drama department. It was given to Rev. Gilbert Hartke, the drama school’s founder, by actress Mercedes McCambridge, in 1972. Although CUA’s records include a photo of Fr. Hartke holding the dress, its whereabouts were unknown for decades.
Discovered by chance
According to CUA, the dress was found by Matt Ripa, operations coordinator for the Department of Drama. Ripa explained that he had searched for the dress, following rumors that it was donated to CUA about 50 years ago. Despite his best efforts to seek out the artifact, his search efforts all ended in failure.