There’s no place like home…even for a pair of shoes.
With Leonardo DiCaprio and some other “angel donors” leading the way, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has acquired Judy Garland’s legendary ruby slippers from 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” — possibly the most famous footwear in film history — for the future Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
Major donations came from Steven Spielberg and former Warner Bros. and Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel, and other donors.
“The ruby slippers occupy an extraordinary place in the hearts of movie audiences the world over,” said Disney’s Bob Iger, who acts as chair of the Academy’s capital campaign. “This is a transformative acquisition for our collection.”
“Leo’s passionate leadership has helped us bring home this legendary piece of movie history,” added Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “It’s a wonderful gift to the Academy museum project, and a perfect representation of the work we do year-round to preserve and share our film heritage.”
Although there are four pairs of ruby slippers known to exist, these slippers (known as the “Witch’s Shoes”) are in the most pristine condition, and are believed to be the very slippers that Garland wore on set for the famous scene in which Dorothy clicks her heels together three times and repeats the immortal words “There’s no place like home” in order to return to Kansas.
After the film wrapped, the various pairs of slippers were put into storage at MGM’s Culver City lot for over thirty years. MGM costumer Kent Warner stumbled upon several pairs while preparing for a studio auction in 1970. One pair was sold at said auction and was eventually donated to the Smithsonian, while Warner kept the finest pair – the “Witch’s Shoes” – until he sold them in 1981. Seven years later, another collector bought them, allowing them to be displayed in public at the National Portrait Gallery and the Library of Congress.
Now (or, more accurately, in a few years) fans will have chance to see the famous footwear when the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opens. It will be located inside the historic May Company building at the intersection of Wilshire Blvd. and Fairfax Ave., currently known as LACMA West.