Everyone knows the blue and white gingham dress that Dorothy wears in The Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic out there. Along with Marilyn Monroe’s dress from The Seven Year Itch and Scarlette O’hara’s ruby red dress from Gone with the Wind.
Well only one of those dresses was secretly missing for 4 decades and is now safely with professionals.
Oddly, to me anyway, the dress was gifted to Catholic University and the former head of the drama department, Father Gilbert Hartke, in the 1970s. However, it is said to have mysteriously gone missing just a year after its arrival at the Washington, D.C., campus.
“I had looked in our archives, storage closets, etc. to no avail. I assumed it was a tall tale (of which many exist for Father Hartke),” Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator for the drama department
“Our building is in the process of renovations and upgrades, so I was cleaning out my office to prepare,” Ripa explained. “I noticed on top of the faculty mailboxes a trashbag and asked my co-worker to hand it to me. On the trashbag was a note for our former chair stating that he had found ‘this’ in his office and that he must have moved it when he moved out of the chair’s office… I was curious what was inside and opened the trashbag and inside was a shoebox and inside the shoe box was the dress!! I couldn’t believe it.”
Ripa said he quickly retrieved gloves so he could examine the dress before bringing it to the archival department.
“Needless to say, I have found many interesting things in the Hartke during my time at CUA, but I think this one takes the cake,” he concluded.