The Catholic University is preparing to auction off the dress worn by Judy Garland in the classic film The Wizard of Oz. The iconic blue-and-white gingham dress could draw as much as $1.2 million. The funds raised by the sale will go towards establishing a new film acting program in the university.
The missing dress
CUA’s “Dorothy dress” is one of a handful of surviving costumes from the 1939 production. It was presented as a gift to Rev. Gilbert Hartke, the drama school’s founder, in 1972, but was soon misplaced.Faculty and staff searched for nearly 50 years, but it wasn’t until renovations began on the Hartke Theater that the dress came to light.
In a 2021 report from CUA, Matt Ripa, operations coordinator for the Department of Drama, recounted his discovery:
“I was curious what was inside and opened the bag. Inside was a shoebox, and inside the shoebox was the dress! I couldn’t believe it,” Ripa says. “My co-worker and I quickly grabbed some gloves and looked at the dress and took some pictures before putting it back in the box and heading over to the (University) Archives. 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!”