Ruby Slippers Q & A

Have any photos of the pair Landini once owned surfaced after he sold them? 

Not to my knowledge, which is odd as the pair has been listed for sale online for $6,000,000.  The photos in the listing are old shots, some of which are screen captured from the late Austin Brown’s “Ruby Slippers Project” blog.  My research indicates that this pair is one of two places – first off, they are not owned by David Elkouby.  David worked as a buyer’s agent for a group of investors, which I believe to be called “The Ruby Slippers of Oz, LLC.”  The LLC was registered as in California shortly after the 2000 sale of the pair, with their business being investments.  The first place this pair may be is in cold storage, however, there is heavy speculation that the pair is actually in the house of the agent for the LLC.

Moments in Time Slipper Sale Page

 

Would you ever share your list of which pairs are used when in the film? / Can you tell us which pairs were used in specific scenes in the film?

#1 pair (thick heeled):
-tapping scene
-publicity photos taken early in production
-non-dance scenes filmed early in production
- scene where the slippers shock the hands of the Wicked Witch of the West (originally I believed the shock pair was a mix of the #1 and #6 pairs, but HD screen caps have indicated a rubber heel cap and 9 rhinestones on the side of the bow closest to the camera, indicating the pair used there was the #1 thicker heeled pair).

#6 pair (thin heeled):
-Emerald City entry scene
-this pair MAY be visible in the Witch's castle as the pair on Dorothy's feet as the witch says "It's so kind of you to visit me in my loneliness."  The heel that is visible appears to be the thinner version, and this was a non-dance scene, so most likely the shoes were size 5.

The mixed up pair, as they exist at the Smithsonian now, became the primary pair after the switch.  Some version of this pair (#1/#1 or #1/#6) can be seen in most non-dance scenes in the film.

#7 pair (thin heeled)
-on the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East
-on Dorothy’s feet when she first receives them in Munchkinland

Double (thin heeled)
-on Dorothy’s feet when she takes her first steps on the Yellow Brick Road in Munchkinland
-publicity photos taken in February 1939
-some of the Scarecrow’s dance routine (I assume these were the scenes that had to be reshot as it seemed Judy wore this pair more frequently late in production, and may explain why this was the pair given to Roberta Bauman)

Unknown (Yellow felt)
-visible when Dorothy is skipping towards the camera out of Munchkinland

 

 

How long did it take them to make all the pairs? Were they still making them as filming was happening? 
 

There is no record of this, so my answer is conjecture based on how long it takes me to create a pair.  Being that there were multiple people working on making the pairs, they went significantly faster than I am able to produce them.  One person was responsible for spray dyeing the white silk Innes base shoes red, and several “Spanish” beading women (as described by a former MGM seamstress to Aljean Harmetz during an interview in the 1970s) were responsible for sewing the sequin overlays.  The overlays were then turned over to another person who formed and attached them to the shoes.  It is possible that multiple people were in charge of attaching the overlays, as evidenced by the differences in how the sequined silk was attached to the shoes around the opening.  Some pairs have the thick thread visible around the opening of the shoe, while others do not.  There is also information from one seamstress that the overlays were originally glued on to the pair and then pinned in place, but the Smithsonian conservator who worked on the shoes did not see any adhesive used for this manner - but the published findings from the Heritage Science Journal indicate that there is glossy adhesive visible on several places on the shoes.  There are differences in the construction of pairs, so it’s possible that only one pair was glued to the shoe before being sewn. 

Getting back to how long it would take to make a pair, I can only guess that the professional beaders were able to sequin an overlay faster than I could, and I can do an overlay for a shoe in 3 – 4 hours.  Given that they were working more haphazardly, I’d estimate they could have sequined overlays for a pair of shoes in under 4 hours, easily.  Keep in mind that the Arabian slippers were much more labor intensive to make, and those were designed and completed between 10/24/1938 when Richard Thorpe was fired and 10/31/1938 when they were costume tested.  The studio also made a bowless sequin pump pair during this time, which ended up being marked #6.  Filming resumed on 11/4/1938, and I would speculate that most, if not all, of the pairs were complete by then. 

Do you think there was a particular reason for yellow felt to be used on just the one pair? 

 

The man whose wife owned them stated that the felt had been replaced on them at one point, has also found to be the case on their pair as well as the recovered Shaw pair.  My guess is that the studio either used what they had on hand at the time the felt was replaced, or they specifically chose yellow because of the yellow brick road. 

What happened to the bugle bead slippers? Were they destroyed with other pairs or might they be out there? 

The only person I know of who claims to have seen the bugle beaded slippers after filming is Michael Shaw.  One of MGM’s beading women, Aurora Duenas, claimed she has made a beaded style slipper, several sequined style slippers, and an Arabian style pair.  Shaw described them as being “beautifully beaded” in rhinestones, and the somewhat higher resolution photos I can find of the Thorpe set support that claim.  What does not make sense, however, is that supposedly only a single pair of bugle bead slippers was found in 1970.  The studio made it a point to have multiple pairs of important costumes, as evidenced by 5 pairs of the sequined slippers being made.  While the bugle bead shoes were undoubtedly more labor intensive to create, I doubt the studio started filming with only a single pair on hand.  What became of the others?  My research indicates Kent only found the one pair.  What became of them is anyone’s guess, although Michael Shaw claims that the pair went to a friend of Kent’s and that he “doesn’t know what happened to them from there.” 

How many pairs do YOU think there were?

As of 1970, there were 7 pairs in existence made for production, but not all used in the final film:

1. The bugle bead shoes, worn during Richard Thorpe’s time directing.
2.  Arabian test shoes, worn in costume tests on 10/31/1938.
3.  #6 pair, the first pair made for production, with slightly thinner heels and leather top lifts (heel caps).  The bows on this pair were also the first made and tested, and were made with standard width bugle beads, whereas subsequent bows were made with micro thin hex tube beads.  The silk overlay for the bows was also glued and sewn to the foundation fabric, whereas subsequent bows attached only by sewing.  This glue worked to preserve some of the red color of the silk, and is why one of the Shaw bows and one of the Smithsonian’s bows are more red than others. 
4.  #1 pair, a thicker heeled pair with rubber top lifts, originally used as Judy’s primary non-dance pair.
5.  “Double” pair, a thinner heeled set with rubber top lifts, the primary dance pair and primary pair at the end of production.
6.  #7 pair, a thinner heeled pair with leather top lifts, with no felt on the soles.  Used only in Munchkinland.
7.  Unknown #, unknown heel thickness, yellow felt on the soles.  Most likely a size 6 backup dancing pair, possibly also worn by Bobbie Koshay.

A number of people involved with the slippers have given their recollections, which almost always support my findings of 5 pairs used in the final film:

 

JOHN LEBOLD

“There were supposed to be five pairs in existence,” he said, the same number Reynolds had remembered.  “Kent found them in a dust bin area, lying there.  The slippers were going to be thrown out.  A couple pairs were thrown out and then retrieved.  I think he said three pairs.  Kent asked, ‘should we toss them or should we save them?’  The Kerkorian people didn’t know what memorabilia was, they only knew what money was.”  So Kent kept the slippers. – The Ruby Slippers of Oz, page 170

*TRUE, 5 PAIRS OF SEQUINED PUMPS EXISTED, 4 PAIRS FOUND BY KENT, 1 PAIR OWNED BY ROBERTA BAUMAN OF MEMPHIS
 

BILL THOMAS
 

“Kent told me the story in the late 1970s.  He said he found a woman who thought she knew where the slippers were – I knew he had to give a pair of shoes away.  They were given to a daughter of a woman who worked at MGM, in exchange for information on where the shoes were.  He didn’t say the name of the woman.  This stuff was kept secret.”  Authors note: This was the yellow felt pair of slippers.
 

“I think Kent was the first person to see the ruby slippers in 30 years.  He said they were in an old sound stage called ‘the barn’ which was used for storage.  It was an old building, missing its roof, three or four levels.  MGM stored a lot of older wardrobe on the upper levels.  One lady thought they might be up there, but said, ‘I wouldn’t go up there, it’s a very, very dangerous building.  Rat-infested.’  He found the Marie Antoinette costumes up there, found a whole storage for shoes.  He started going through everything up there.  Everything was covered with dust.  The only light was sunlight bleeding through the roof.  He found himself in a sea of green shoes.  Something caught his eye.  He blew away the dust, and there were the ruby slippers.  He said he had found six pairs.  The woman in the south had another pair. – The Ruby Slippers of Oz, page 182

*TRUE, 4 SEQUINED PAIRS FOUND, 1 ARABIAN TEST PAIR, 1 BUGLE BEAD PAIR

“LEO”
 

Then Leo continued: “He was in Lot 2, now condos, sorting through 30, 40 years of stored wardrobes, finding items for the auction.  A dirty, filthy job, inches of dust.  There was a lot of the The Great Zeigfeld stuff, plus Oz and everything else.  It was a giant sound stage, used as a closet, unopened for 20 years.  He searched, day by day, for weeks, looking into every locker, every chest, every bin.”
 

“In one bin he found three of four inches of dust.  Beneath the dust, a bundle, wrapped in muslin.  He picked it up and unraveled the cloth and they fell out.  Three pairs of ruby slippers – a size 6, one unmarked, and one with ‘Judy Garland 5B’ stitched in.  The shoes were old, sequins faded, roughed up, but Kent knew exactly what he’d found.  He had gone into the job knowing he might find the ruby slippers, and in many ways he pursued them.”

“Three pairs…” I mumbled.

“That’s what he said.  He could have found more.  I heard there were 6.  Suppose he kept three pairs and didn’t tell anyone, you know what I mean?” – The Ruby Slippers of Oz, page 31

*TRUE FOR 6 – 4 SEQUIN PUMP PAIRS, 1 ARABIAN TEST PAIR, 1 BUGLE BEAD PAIR
 

KENT WARNER
 

When I found the Ruby Slippers at MGM there were (I think) 4 pairs. One pair auctioned for $15,000.00. I kept 1 pair and know not where the other 2 pair went. The three pair I didn't get were very well worn. My perfect pair were most likely the 'insert' (close-up) shoes which were only used when the camera was extreamely [sic] close on the shoes.

When a film is made, and the script calls for a camera angle featuring a particular item close up, that 'shot' is almost always made at a separate time from the regular shooting of a scene. Thusly; when in The Wizard of Oz Glinda tells Dorothy to click her heels and say 'There's no place like home, there's no place like home' and the camera is featuring the ruby Slippers (very close up) the most perfect (my pair) of the Slippers was used.

To the question 'wouldn't Judy Garland have to have walked in the Slippers (my pair) at some time or other?' the answer is not necessarely [sic]. If the inserts were shot later or on a separate stage (as is often done) Ms Garland would have been handed a perfect pair of Slippers right at the shooting site. This would have insured that fact that the Slippers were indeed kept perfect for their featured moment of glory. After the 'shot' they were taken away and boxed to insure their perfection.

As a person having been involved with film costume for many years I know these all to be fact. I've gone through 'inserts' many, many times. Film costume buffs to whom I have spoken over the years very much agree with this theory. But... rest asured [sic]... this is the real thing!

Reguards, [sic]
Kent (Warner) – The Ruby Slippers of Oz, pages 206 – 207

*TRUE, 4 SEQUIN PUMP PAIRS WERE FOUND BY KENT WARNER.  THE 5TH PAIR WAS WITH ROBERTA BAUMAN IN MEMPHIS SINCE 1940.
 

EUGENE MURRAY, MGM COSTUMER (1925-2021)
 

Reported that he was working on the show Medical Center in 1970 for an evening shoot, when he left the soundstage to get something for a director.  While outdoors, he came across Kent Warner who was working to prepare for the MGM auction.  Gene remembers that it was raining that night, and Kent was carrying a satchel.  Kent opened the satchel and Gene saw multiple pairs of sequined shoes.  Kent said that he had found 6 pairs of slippers inside the Ladies’ Character Wardrobe building, which Gene pointed out on a map for me.  The building was located directly behind the Irving Thalburg building, on a studio street that had once been named “Ince Way.”  Gene was told at one point the building was a “converted stable” and that studio workers referred to it as a “barn,” possibly because of the large doors at the front of the building.  There was never a true stable on the studio lot, and further research indicated that the building was actually a garage that stood on the property since 19-teens, having been built as part of the Ince Studios that originally stood on the property. – interview with Eugene Murray, 2015

 

 

I can match up the known pairs with most shots in publicity photos and the film, leading me to believe that most likely there were no additional pairs made for production.  There was a story told by a Munchkin of Toto eating a pair of the slippers in Judy’s trailer, so that is a possibility, assuming that pair never made it into publicity photos or the final film. 
 

Another rumor of a pair left behind the MGM leather room until everything was trashed in the 70s was also published in Rhys Thomas’ book “The Ruby Slippers of Oz.”  The leather room worker, Eddie Fisher, claimed that he had made the bows out of leather and that the beads and such were “implanted” on it – none of this was true, as there was no leather used to make the bows, and the beads were sewn onto silk that was then mounted onto stiff fabric.  Eugene Murray worked at MGM from the 1960’s to the 1980’s said that the leather room had long been defunct, and that there was never anything in it as long as he worked there.

Also keep in mind that several pairs of slippers show signs of being repaired during the time of production.  If the studio had so many extra pairs, why devote the time to replacing lost rhinestones, replacing the felt, or touching up the paint on the soles?


Do you think the original design from Adrian is out there somewhere?

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was out there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had also been destroyed.  So many irreplaceable things from MGM productions were lost to history, but there were people at the studio who made it a point to save some of those items.  There are so many possibilities of what happened to the original designs that anything could have happened to them.  Do I wish they’d show up?  Definitely. 

Were the same exact sequins used across all pairs or do you think some pairs had different types/shades?

They were all the same shade of red.  The visible differences in coloring today are due to different degrees of decay to the gelatin sequins.  For some time I wondered if the Shaw pair had been made darker than others, but this was ruled out when I realized that the Shaw and Smithsonian pairs had been mixed up during production.  Both pairs were filmed in their original pairings early during production, meaning the sequins had to be the same at that point.  I had also wondered if there had been a “Kodachrome” pair created for use in non-Technicolor shots, however, all of the Kodachome shots I have featured the standard pairs used during production.

Was white thread used on the original pairs? If it was red but faded, why do you think the thread used to sew the overlay to the shoe isn’t faded to white?

I believe the thread used to sew the sequins was originally red.  On the Shaw shoes, most of the sequin thread had faded, but there are still some spots where red thread can be seen holding sequins on.  I have a multi colored sequin purse where some parts of the threads have turned more white, whereas other parts retain their original color.  The Smithsonian’s pair was examined and the findings published in the Heritage Science Journal.   They found that the threads and fabrics used on different areas of the shoe differed: the base shoe, overlay netting, and the threads holding the overlay onto the shoe were dyed silk.  The threads holding the sequins on was identified to be cotton, with the following stated: Fibers are transparent and a light brown color suggesting the thread may have been dyed but is now altered and/or faded.  Most likely, the threads holding the sequins on was originally dyed red, but have faded differently than the other threads because they are a different material, or that they were made with different dye.

Heritage Science Journal Article

 

How many people worked together to make all the pairs?

My best guess is 1 person to dye the shoes (Vera Mordaunt), someone to make the overlay patterns, several people to sequin the silk (Aurora Duenas and others), and at least one person to attach the overlays.  An MGM seamstress named Marian Parker stated that a woman named Elizabeth Dingler may have been the one to attach the overlays onto the shoes.

 

I have always wondered, what exactly did it cost to make a pair during production? Did the Smithsonian refurbish their pair? I know they were trying to get funding for it. Out of the known pairs in existence, which are the most and least expensive? 

Rhys Thomas estimates that it cost $13.00 to make each pair during production.  This estimate doesn’t include any further information or a breakdown of what those costs would be.  I assume his estimate included the original price of the used base shoes, all of the supplies, and the staff time taken to create them.

The Smithsonian was successful in their crowd funding request of $300,000 to conserve the shoes, and the shoes were unveiled in a new exhibit in 2018, alongside one of Glinda’s wands that I loaned to the museum.  They did not truly “refurbish” the slippers.  The conservators and scientists studied the components and devised a plan to help conserve the shoes for decades.  Part of this process was lifting each sequin and cleaning under it, as well as using micro thin threads to secure loose sequins into place.  They even went so far as to document each sequin, so if any fall off, they will know exactly where it came from. 

As far as pairs being more valuable than others, that’s a tough question, as I’ve never felt that any pairs were worth more or less than others.  While the Smithsonian’s pair is in poorer condition than others, that just means they were worn more by Judy Garland than other pairs.  Overall, their pair has more signs of use, but their sequins are actually less degraded than the Academy’s pair.  What is more important to a buyer?  A neater looking pair, or a pair worn more than others?  Being that the slippers are so scarce (we’re not talking about there being dozens of pairs), I think any buyer who had the money for them would pay the same for any available pair, regardless of condition.

 

Also interested in your opinion of the ikon replicas. I feel the shape is a bit off... Thanks!

I’m a perfectionist when it comes to the slippers, so they are not for me.  I know plenty of people that are happy with their pair from Ikon, and that’s all that matters. 

 

Do you think it was a double and not Judy wearing the slippers whenever there’s a close up?
 

Personally, I think it was Judy.  Rhys Thomas believes it was a stand in, but no proof exists either way. 
 

Were the original base shoes a commonly available shoe, a stock dance shoe, or were they made from scratch especially for Judy to wear?

The base shoes were a white silk wedding shoe, available through the Innes Shoe Company.  It is my belief that Innes was a private label shoe seller, not a manufacturer, meaning they would order styles of shoes from different manufacturers and then add their logo. This would explain the differences in construction between the known pairs (vary heel heights and thicknesses, varying heel caps, varying stitching inside the shoes, varying label styles).  The shoes were actually used in other productions before MGM turned them into the Ruby Slippers – the studio was incredibly frugal, and being that this was the last time the shoes could be used, they were not about to use brand new shoes.  Studio staff took several pairs of used shoes in Judy’s sizes (5 and 6) to make into the slippers.  The same goes for all of the shoes that were dyed green for the Emerald City – they wouldn’t be used again, so the studio utilized shoes that had already been worn.  Aside from the Arabian test pair, none of the slipper shoes were custom made for Judy.  If they had been, we wouldn’t have widths varying from BC to C – they would have made them all the same width. 

If the original slippers were made from ‘gelatin’ does that mean they aren’t vegan? & why this method? 

No.  The slippers themselves aren’t vegan, as they were made using two different kinds of leather.  As for gelatin sequins, no, they would not be vegan either, as the core of the sequin is made of gelatin that was derived from animal collagen.  As for why the studio used that kind of sequin – that’s what was commercially available at the time.  Smithsonian magazine published a history of sequins which is available for viewing online.  Sequins have evolved over time, starting as metal discs.  In the early 1930’s, a process was developed to electroplate gelatin with silver, which could then be dyed.  The result was a much lighter sequin, but the gelatin cores did not hold up to moisture or humidity, and that’s why the original slippers look so much different today than they did when they were new.  After gelatin, cellulose acetate sequins were available, but were still somewhat fragile.  Cellulose acetate sequins are still available from some manufacturers, and that is what I use for my translucent replicas, and why those specific style of my shoes can’t get wet.    In the 1950’s, a sequin manufacturer started encasing sequins in a polyester film called Mylar, which allowed them to be washed.  Finally, vinyl plastic sequins were invented.  The slippers are a product of their time, and unless the studio wanted to sew metal discs onto the shoes, they didn’t have any choice but to use gelatin sequins. 

As an FYI, I believe that the slipper sequins were made in Belgium by a manufacturer named "Geta" that was in operation from approximately 1930 - 1985, having been founded by Mr. Jules Moens.  MGM studios used Belgian sequins, and Geta was the only manufacturer based in Belgium.  During World War II, the studio had a difficult time getting sequins, so they began harvesting sequins off of used costumes in storage.

Smithsonian Magazine Article

What was the process (I know that’s probably a long and complicated answer) and timeline for creating a pair?

I can only speculate, but I would assume that the entire process of making the shoes was completed in less than a week.  Starting with Adrian’s initial bowless design, one pair was made and tested, approved, and the other four pairs were made.  This was a relatively easy process for the studio, which essentially worked like a factory.  It also wasn’t the first time they had made sequined shoes, as they made a pair for “The Great Ziegfeld” in 1936, so they knew what the process required.  The entire process was:

 

Design
Create pattern
Spray dye
Paint soles and heel caps
Stretch silk (georgette and/or chiffon) in a frame
Trace the patterns onto the silk (depending on the size of the frame each staff member could have made at least 2 overlays on a single piece of silk)
Sequin the fabric using the pattern as a guide (probably done in a few hours per pair)
Remove silk from the frame
Cut the sequined overlay out of the fabric, leaving a .5” seam
Fold the seams over, close the back of the overlay, and attach to the shoe in multiple spots (glued and/or sewn)
Sew bows using very general pattern
Mount bow silk to stiff fabric (glued and/or sewn)
Sew bow to the shoe
Label shoes with “Judy Garland” or “Double” and #

 

Is it weird that pair # 1 and # 6 have an embossed stamp in each shoe? Also, was there a reason the same style shoe had cloth and embossed styles or was the Bauman pair a different (but similar) shoe? I know they look differently shaped than the rest of the pairs, so it would make sense.

I don’t think it’s necessarily weird that the Shaw pair has two embossed stamps – it was most likely a human error that happened in the factory.  As for the different style Innes marks in the shoe, my research leads me to believe that Innes wasn’t a shoe manufacturer, but instead utilized several different factories to make private label shoes.  This would explain the differences in the base shoes themselves as far as heel sizes and thicknesses, interior stitching, as well as the different formats of manufacturer’s numbers in the shoes.  The leathers inside the various shoes are also slightly different in terms of composition.  The only common denominator among all of the pairs is the arch of the shoe, which is longer and more prominent than other high heels from the time period.  As stated before, all of the shoes were already used in other MGM productions before MGM, so it’s also possible they came into the studio at different times during the 1930’s. 

 

Did they follow a specific pattern or did they kind of “free hand” each pair based off the first one made?

My best guess is that two patterns were made: one for the size 5 pairs, and one for the size 6 pairs.  Being that nobody ever expected the shoes to be examined up close, it didn’t matter if the overlays didn’t fit each shoe exactly.  The overlays several of the shoes do not actually come all the way down to the leather sole along the arch, and there are areas of the overlays that were not stretched as much as other areas.  As for the rows of sequins, I believe they were done free hand, with the intention to have the more diagonal rows coming towards the front of the shoe.  The angle of those rows differs between shoes of the same pair.

Slipper Research

How many pairs of Ruby Slippers were made for "The Wizard of Oz?"

My research indicates that five pairs of sequined shoes were created, or at least that is the number that still existed when the pairs were located in 1970.  There is a story that Toto ate one of the pairs during production, but that can't be substantiated.  A costume test "Arabian" style pair was also found, as well as a possible "bugle beaded" pair.  Kent Warner located 6 total pairs of slippers on the MGM lot in 1970, including the pairs not seen in the final film.  A 7th pair was owned by Roberta Bauman of Memphis, TN.

 

As of May of 1970, the following pairs were known to exist:

Size 5C, no felt, taller heel, leather(?) heel cap, #7 Judy Garland inscription, X 6802, 5C D 536 manufacturer's numbers.  This pair can be seen on the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East and on Dorothy's feet when she first receives them.  They are not visible in any other scene or publicity photos.  Current location: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Slippers on Witch of the East
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Ruby Slippers on Dorothy
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Size 5BC, orange felt, thicker heel, rubber(?) heel cap, #1 Judy Garland inscription, 5BC 15250 manufacturer's numbers.  This pair, while not the first made for production, were initially Judy Garland's primary pair for non-dance scenes.  Early on during production this pair was intermixed with a 5C pair, and the one mismatched set became Judy Garland's primary pair.  This pair can be seen in the climactic "There's no place like home" tapping scene, in publicity stills taken early during production, as well as when sparks fly out of the shoes in the Wicked Witch's castle.  Current location: Smithsonian National Museum of American History (proper right shoe) / FBI Evidence (proper left shoe).

 

Ruby Slippers Tapping
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Size 5C, orange felt, thinner heel, leather(?) heel cap, #6 Judy Garland inscription, 5C 11869 D536 manufacturer's numbers. This was the first pair created and tested for production, and can be seen in costume test photos taken on 10/31/1938 before bows were added.  Initially this pair was a backup pair, but early on during production this pair was intermixed with the 5BC pair, and one shoe of the set became part of Judy Garland's primary pair.  This pair can be seen when Dorothy shows her shoes to the Emerald City doorman.  Current location: Smithsonian National Museum of American History (proper left shoe) / FBI Evidence (proper right shoe).

Ruby Slippers at Emerald City
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Size 6B, orange felt, thinner heel, rubber(?) heel cap, Double inscription, E58 68 manufacturer's numbers.  This pair was created as a pair for Judy Garland to wear during dance numbers and during long rehearsals.  It is possible that Judy's stand in/stunt double Bobbie Koshay may have also worn this pair.  This pair can be seen when Dorothy takes her first steps on the Yellow Brick Road to leave Munchkinland. The pair can also be seen in publicity photos taken towards the end of filming, and also in some of the Scarecrow's dance scenes that were re-filmed later during production.  Current location: privately owned.

Ruby Slippers on Yellow Brick Road
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Ruby Slippers Publicity b&w
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Size 6, yellow felt, possible thinner heel, unknown heel cap, unknown inscription, unknown manufacturer's numbers.  This was a pair created for Judy Garland to wear during dance scenes, and may have served mostly as a backup pair and/or a pair for Bobbie Koshay to wear.  The arch appears slightly longer than the size 5 pairs, and the heel looks to possibly be the thinner version in the quick shots where it is visible.  This pair can be seen in the long shot when Dorothy is skipping towards the camera out of Munchkinland.  Current location: unknown.  Last seen in Woodland Hills, CA in 1975.

Yellow Felt Ruby Slippers
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Yellow Felt Ruby Slippers
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Yellow Felt Ruby Slippers
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Yellow Felt Ruby Slippers
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Yellow Felt Ruby Slippers
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Yellow Felt Ruby Slippers
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Yellow Felt Ruby Slippers
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Yellow Felt Ruby Slippers
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Yellow Felt Ruby Slippers
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Arabian test pair, unknown size, no felt, low heel, WCC inscription, custom made base shoe with no manufacturer's numbers visible in any photographs.  The base shoes for this pair were made by Western Costume company and beaded by MGM costuming staff, and the creation of this base shoe was Western Costume's only contribution to any of the Ruby Slippers, despite what they have gone on to claim.  The glass jewels used on this pair (rose montees, honeycomb dome buttons, shield shaped montees, and rectangular stones) all appear to be Light Siam instead of the Siam coloring of the sequins.  This may have been an intentional design feature from Adrian that would allow the rhinestone pattern to be move visible, as the reflections of these stones would be more orange than the deep red of the sequins.  This pair is visible in costume test photos taken on 10/31/1938, and are not visible in the final film.  Current location: unknown.  Purchased at auction in 2011.

Judy Garland Dorothy Costume Test
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Wizard-of-Oz_DorothyWardrobeShot
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Bugle beaded: A pair of slippers are alleged to have also been found in 1970, although the only person who has ever claimed to have seen them is Michael Shaw.  According to Shaw, this pair was worn by Judy Garland during filming under the direction of Richard Thorpe but were changed to sequins when production shut down because the shoes were too heavy to dance in.  Michael Shaw claims to know who received the pair Kent found, but he hasn't offered that name publicly.  Aurora Duenas, an MGM beading woman, claimed she beaded three styles of slippers for the film: sequined pumps, an Arabian style pair with sequins and beads, and a bugle beaded pair.

Bugle bead Ruby Slippers
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Bugle Bead Ruby Slippers
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Bugle Bead Ruby Slippers
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Bugle Bead Ruby Slipers
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Using large format images from the Academy of Motion Pictures, I can state that the pair of slippers worn early on during production do indeed appear to be made with small (possibly 2mm long) glass bugle beads, with additional larger glass beads forming a pattern around the shoe.  My guess is that the bugle bead slippers had the same pattern of swirling lines of rose montees, round honeycomb dome buttons, and shield shaped rose montees visible on the Arabian test pair.  The question remains: why would only one pair  of bugle beaded shoes have been found?  The studio always had multiple copies of important costumes made when production started ... so why didn't Kent Warner find more than one pair?

Why do the slippers look so dark in person?

While the slippers were made with deep red metallic sequins, they were never "maroon" or "burgundy" colored.  When the slippers were newly created, the coloring of the sequins was a deep red that would appear brighter under the exceedingly bright studio lights needed to film in Technicolor.  The Kodachrome publicity still shown below gives a more accurate idea of the original coloring.

 

Like sequins, glass jewels came in differing shades of red in the 1930's.  Of course, these colors would vary slightly from manufacturer and the cut of the glass, as more faceted cuts let more light in and make the stone appear brighter.  Most likely the slipper rhinestones were made in Germany or Czechoslovakia.  The three main shades of red I have come across during my research are:

 

Light Siam: red with visible hints of orange

Siam: deep red without visible hints of orange
Dark Siam: dark red/garnet coloring.

 

For the slippers seen in the final film, the studio utilized sequins, rectangular glass jewels, and bugle beads that would fall under the "Siam" coloring.  This deep red coloring would prevent the sequins and bows from looking too orange on film.  The glass rose montee rhinestones lining each bow fall under the "Light Siam" coloring, and I suspect this was done on purpose to help define the edges of the bows on film.  No part of the slippers were "Dark Siam" (or garnet, maroon, burgundy, etc.) colored.

The reason the slippers look so dark when viewed in present day is how the sequins have oxidized over time.  The core of the sequin is a layer of gelatin.  The gelatin core is an organic material that turns brown with age, and the silver electroplated to the front side of the sequin blackens over time.  The red finish of the sequins has flaked off over the years, leaving more of the darkened gelatin and silver core visible, and making the sequins appear translucent instead of solid metallic.  Buy a sequined purse from the 1920's or 1930's and you can see exactly how the process works, or view the example of a gelatin sequin purse below - you can see that the sequins that were covered by the purse flap still look bright and metallic, whereas the sequins exposed to the air have darkened and aged considerably.

 

 

 

Ruby Slippers Publicity Kodachrome
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Ruby Slipper Bow Detail
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Gelatin sequin purse aging example
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Gelatin Sequin Purse Aged
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How were the original slippers made?
 

The slippers were created by "Spanish" beading women working at MGM Studios, as described by surviving costume staff in the 1970's.  At least one of the "Spanish" women was actually from Mexico.  The shoes used for the slippers were used shoes that the studio already had on hand, and all of them were white silk faille wedding style shoes made by Innes Shoe Company.  A costume staff member spray dyed the shoes red while the beading women hand sequined overlays of silk georgette and chiffon.  These overlays were made using a flat pattern transferred onto the silk that was stretched in a frame - the sequins were not sewn directly to the shoe as one replica slipper maker claims.  These sequined overlays were then formed into the shape of the shoe and attached by at least one woman (the varying appearance of the threads inside the shoes may indicate different people worked on attaching them).  The overlays were sewn to the shoe around the opening, through the canvas toe, around the base of the entire shoe, and to the heel silk and also through the leather covering the heel.  The soles were painted red, and felt was added to some pairs to muffle Judy Garland's foot steps.  The bows were created by hand sewing glass beads to a silk overlay which was then wrapped around a stiff fabric (leather was not used, despite claims made in the 1980's).  The first pair of bows made and tested for production were created with thicker bugle beads than would be used on subsequent pairs, and the silk was both sewn and glued to the fabric.  Subsequent bows would be made by only sewing the silk to the stiff fabric.  Interestingly, the adhesive used on the first set of bows helped to preserve the coloring, and that's why these two bows appear more red around the edges today than the bows made after them. 

The photo below is an excerpt from interview notes provided by Aljean Harmetz.  Marian Parker worked on "The Wizard of Oz" in the costuming department and shared her recollections about how the shoes were made.  Additional information provided during Aljean's interviews corroborate this statement, as does all of my other research, including my discussions with staff at the Smithsonian. 

The process that the studio used (and I use!) allows a row of sequins to be sewn in 30 - 60 seconds depending on the length of the row.  Sewing sequins directly to a shoe by hand will take you substantially longer.  This process also allows the sequins to be flipped over much more easily.  The studio was in the business of making costumes quickly and cheaply - they would not spend the time and money paying staff to work on shoes for days when a shoe could be fully sequined in a matter of a few hours. 

Marian Parker Wizard of Oz interview
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