In the early 1970s, actress Mercedes McCambridge, a contemporary of Judy Garland, gifted the Catholic University of America's drama department with one of the iconic dresses that Garland wore as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). (It's unclear why McCambridge had one of the dresses.) Shortly after the fanfare of the gifting moment, the dress vanished. Rumors abounded that it was somewhere in the drama apartment but nobody could seem to find it. Lecturer Matt Ripa had looked everywhere when he spotted a bag on top of a row of mailboxes in the department office.
"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 told CNN. "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."
Apparently this is the sixth of Dorothy's Oz dresses still in existence.
"All of the dresses have certain verifiable characteristics, including, for example, a 'secret pocket' on the right side of the pinafore skirt for Dorothy's handkerchief, 'Judy Garland' written by hand in a script specific to a single person who labeled all of the extant dresses in the same hand. Apparently, the thin material of the blouse was prone to tearing when Garland took it off after filming, and a seamstress often repaired it before she donned it for the next shoot," the university reported.
A few years back, one of the other dresses sold at auction for more than $1.5 million.