Million dollar slippers from the land of Oz
It’s been over 80 years since The Wizard of Oz was released.
The fantasy tale of Dorothy’s adventures in Oz and her journey along the Yellow Brick Road back home to Kansas, has enchanted generations of children for decades.
Few fans know that the film, which was one of the most expensive ever made, was not even a hit at the box office. It actually made a big loss for the MGM studios.
Only after the film made it to the TV screens in November 1956 on the CBS channel, did it march confidently down the Yellow Brick Road to success.
Today experts claim it is the most watched film in cinema history.
There are thousands of collectables that owe their existence to the movie, but maybe the most thrilling relates to the Dorothy’s (Judy Garland) red ruby slippers. The story of these slippers is worthy of a movie in its own right.
Although there’s disagreement on the exact number of red slippers made for Judy during filming there’s a general view that at least five pairs still exist.
There’s also no doubt that if they came up for auction they would be expected to sell for well north of £2million!
The slippers are so exalted one pair is on display in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
Judy’s slippers vanished over the rainbow
But the pair with the best tale to tell have only just been re-discovered. They were stolen from the museum dedicated to Judy Garland, now open in Grand Rapids, Minnesota – the city where she was born.
The theft was a great source of distress to the museum’s curator and police launched a long investigation to try to find the thief and the slippers.
Last year, 13 years after their disappearance and with new information, the FBI carried out a sting and the slippers re-emerged. It’s safe to say that they will be kept more securely in future even though they aren’t actually made from real rubies.
The Willard of Oz
Willard Carroll, a film director, is a world authority on Wizard of Oz memorabilia. He owns a collection of more than 100,000 objects! Pride of place in Willard’s collection is the actual hour glass used by the Wicked Witch to watch Dorothy and her friends.
Although in the film it gets smashed the prop itself survives and is probably worth in excess of £1million. You can buy a replica on line for £25 but better for collectors is the hour glass lamp on sale for £200.
But there are items which might draw interest. Early print editions of the story, by Frank L Baum, do attract good prices if in good condition. An edition of Ozma of Oz was being touted on e-Bay for £2,250 ($2,500) recently and in the UK a 1939 print edition of the Wizard of Oz (The story on which the film is based) was available for £450. It contained eight colour plates direct from the movie visuals.
Ozmania in reach of most budgets
There’s added value in Judy Garland autographed goods. For example, a cheque signed by Judy in 1964 and mounted in a collage of images is currently valued at just under £2,000 and other autographed bits and pieces sell regularly for £200-£300.
After eight decades, the magic of the Wizard of Oz shows no sign of diminishing.
Keep on seeking out those Oz collectables even if it means looking Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
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