The Golden Age of Hollywood

Authentic Slippers: The Smithsonian Shoes

The pair of ruby slippers on perpetual display in the Popular Culture wing of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, sometimes referred to as ‘The People’s Shoes’, bear a plaque which reads simply:

Sixteen-year-old Judy Garland wore these sequined shoes as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. In the original book by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy’s magic slippers are silver. For the Technicolor movie, they were changed to ruby red to show up more vividly against the yellow-brick road. One of several pairs used during filming, these size-five shoes have felt soles, suggesting they were used for dance sequences.

However, this leaves out many fascinating details of this pair of slippers. These ruby slippers, like the Arabian pair, were found by costumer Kent Warner, who presented them to the MGM auction officials saying, “Look what I found! The ruby slippers!” Nothing more. He let the auctioneer, and everyone else, assume they were the one, and only pair. Further, they are the runts of the litter. They are in poor condition, relative to other known pairs, clearly well worn by Judy Garland, and (possibly) her stand-in, Bobbie Koshay, during production. They are widely believed to be the first, and principal, pair worn during the making of the film and, therefore, were in all likelihood, worn more than any other pair known to exist.

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