What Happened to Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers?

The Wizard of Oz has been one of the finest children’s novels written by L. Frank Baum in 1900. More than a century later, it still stands as one of the most important novels. It is about a farm girl named Dorothy along with her adventures in the Land of Oz. She is accompanied by her pet dog Toto. One of the main questions that the fans have always been asking is what exactly happened to Dorothy’s Ruby slippers. 

What Were the Ruby Slippers?

In the book, the Wizard of Oz, the good witch gives Dorothy a pair of silver slippers after she comes from Kansas, and kills the wicked witch. The slippers are supposed to keep her safe and ultimately return her to Texas. However, when the book was made into a movie, the silver slippers were changed to ruby. This was to make use of the new Technicolor technology. 

Over the years, these shoes have become an iconic part of American cinema. Besides, quite a lot of jewelry has also been used in The Wizard of Oz. 

Dorothy’s ruby slippers were made by costume designer Gilbert Adrian (1903-1959), who was the head costume designer of MGM studio. The shoes were made of white pumps, which were covered in red fabric. The red fabric was completely hidden with red sequins. The soles of the shoes were painted red, and they were adorned with a bow made of red, stiff cotton. The bow was decorated with three different types of rhinestones, and beads. The soles of the shoes were covered in characteristic orange felt. This layer of fabric muffled the sound of Dorothy’s footsteps, as she danced on the yellow brick road. The structure of the shoes made them the perfect slippers for arch support

There were multiple pairs of ruby slippers made for the film. The pair we are going to talk about is made of two mismatched slippers. This pair belongs to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. 

While both the slippers are a size five, they were not created as a pair. This is proved by the marking beneath the shoes. The marking under the right shoe says #1 Judy Garland, and the marking under the left shoe reads #6 Judy garland. The right shoe is from the first pair ever made, and the left shoe is from the sixth pair made for the film. Both the shoes are a size 5, but the left shoe is labeled 5C, and the right one is labeled 5BC. 

Dorothy, the main character from the novel, The Wizard of Oz.

What Happened to Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers?

The slippers were used in the making of the movie, The Wizard Of Oz. After the movie was released, the slippers were anonymously given to the National Museum of American History. The museum displayed the slippers publicly until April 2017, after which slippers were taken off the exhibition. Professionals of the National Museum of American History, the Museum Conservation Institute, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology worked together on a project to conserve the slippers. 

This conservation took place in 2016, and almost 6000 people supported it financially. 

In 2019, after the conservation was complete, the slippers were returned to be exhibited in the National Museum of American History. The shoes were put to display in the museum’s newly renovated wing. 

Do you remember how we told you the pair of slippers in the National Museum of American History were a mismatched pair? Well, it isn’t the only pair out there. Like we mentioned before, there were a lot of copies of the shoes made. One of these copies was in the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. 

Dorothy with her silver shoes. These shoes were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005. For thirteen years, no one knew what happened to Dorothy’s ruby slippers. 13 years later, these shoes were found. It was then that the National Museum of American history realized their pair was similar to the one in the Minnesota Museum. 

The pair in the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota was also mismatched. However, what was weird was that the pairs were matched to each other. The right shoe of the National Museum of American history was paired with the left shoe from the Minnesota Museum. Viceversa for the other shoes.

So, now let’s talk about the pair of shoes in the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. Minnesota was Judy Garland’s home state. The people there were very fond of her memory, which was why chaos broke out when the slippers went missing. There were no fingerprints, footage, or evidence of who stole the slippers. 

The Plexiglass display that the slippers were placed in, was broken to bits. The slippers were gone, and the only thing left behind was a single red sequin. 

The case was given to Officer Gene Bennett, in 2005. He took charge of the case till 2009 when he retired. Often, Officer Bennet is blamed for not trying hard enough to find the slippers. According to him, he did the best with the facilities and leads he was given. 

A reward of 1 million dollars in cash was promised to anybody that could provide a lead about the case. Numerous hints came in after the reward was promised, but nothing led to the shoes being found. 

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers on display a the American History Museum

Finally, somebody contacted an insurance company, claiming they knew where the slippers were, and how to find them. This is the same insurance company that now owns the slippers. Once the FBI found out about this, it was clear the man was trying to extract money from the insurance company. 

A sting operation was organized by the FBI’s art crime unit, and federal agents in Miami, Atlanta, and Chicago. This operation led the officers to Minneapolis. After no clues about the shoes for so long, the FBI and authorities finally found the shoes in 2018. This was a complete 13-year difference from when the robbery took place. 

The return of the slippers caused havoc, and a press conference was held to announce it to all of America. However, the people weren’t really happy. While the slippers had been returned, the authorities had never told them who committed the theft. Nobody truly knew what happened to Dorothy’s ruby slippers. 

The slippers were sent to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Their team of professionals was the authority that identified that the shoes were original. To this day, the shoes are still at the Smithsonian. The theft of the ruby slippers is still a Grand Rapids mystery. Nobody truly knows who committed the act, or where the slippers were for 13 years. 

From the evaluation of the various facts mentioned above, it can be seen that these slippers got a great deal of fame and popularity with the story that revolved around them. The fans just keep on creating newer stories and conspiracies about them every day. If you search the internet for “Dorothy’s Ruby Slipper conspiracy” you will see hundreds of results and forums where detailed discussions regarding the slippers are still undergoing. 

An original pair of Dorothy’s Ruby slippers on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Conclusion

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers have been one of the most important aspects of the novel. In fact, many believe that there have been several types of conspiracies regarding these slippers. However, what we believe is that these slippers are not ordinary slippers. The mysterious act of theft itself has created several doubts regarding the authenticity of these shoes. Nonetheless, we hope we have provided you with some interesting facts on Dorothy’s ruby slippers.