ABOUT THE SHOES
In preparation for the MGM auction in early 1970, costumer Kent Warner made it his mission to find the famous "Ruby Slippers" used during production of MGM's 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz." The MGM lot was expansive, and locating the slippers proved exceedingly difficult to do on his own. Kent enlisted the help of two other costumers - one of which had been with the studio since the early 1940's - to locate the slippers. If the slippers were found, one of the costumers was allowed to choose a pair of slippers to keep in exchange for the information that helped locate them. As we all now know, Kent Warner did locate the shoes on the MGM lot, all thanks to the information given to him by the other two costumers.
In total, Kent Warner found 6 pairs of Ruby Slippers made for "The Wizard of Oz," however, two of those pairs were never seen in the final film. The first of those two pairs was an ornate curled toed pair, now referred to as the "Arabian test shoes." This pair was sold to actress Debbie Reynolds who owned them until selling them at auction through Profiles in History in 2011. The other non-film pair that Kent found are now referred to as the "Bugle bead shoes" - this pair was worn by Judy Garland during the first 10 days of filming "Oz" under the direction of Richard Thorpe. Rumor has it that this pair, covered in glass beads and rhinestones, was too heavy for Judy Garland to dance in, and so when production was shut down to replace Thorpe, the shoes were changed to a lighter sequin version. According to authentic slipper owner Michael Shaw, this pair went to a friend of Kent Warner's, and from there he does not know what became of them. It is possible that this pair went to a costumer named Bill Jobe who was a father figure to Kent, however, I have not been able to prove one way or the other if Bill ever actually received them. Aside from grainy on-set photos, there is no record of these shoes existing other than Michael Shaw's word.
As for the pairs used in production, Kent found four:
1. Size 5C/5BC: this pair was a mix of the #1 and #6 pairs made for production. The number 6 pair was actually the first pair made and tested, the proper left shoe of which can be seen in a 10/31/1938 costume test photo of Judy Garland. This pair also received the first set of bows that were made and tested. The bows were made slightly differently than subsequent pairs, in that thicker bugle beads were used and the silk overlays were glued and sewn to the stiff material. This glue actually allowed these two bows to retain more of the red color than other bows from production, which have faded considerably more. This #6 pair was intermixed with the #1 pair sometime during production, as the pairs can be seen in the film in their correct (#1/#1 and #6/#6) pairing, as well as mismatched (#1/#6). The other mismatched pair (#6/#1) are never seen together in the final film, and were most likely reserved as backups. This pair had orange felt on the soles.
2. 5BC/5C: (#6/#1) this pair was in better condition than the sister pair listed above, and are not visible in the final film as they existed when found in 1970. This pair had orange felt on the soles.
3. 5C: (#7) this pair was in pristine condition compared to the others, with a slightly higher heel. The bottoms were painted and without felt, and had circular scuff marks that Kent Warner believed made them the tapping pair from the final scene in Oz. Kent's belief was incorrect, as the tapping pair was actually the #1 pair. This pair was only visible in Munchkinland on the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East, and then on Dorothy's feet when the shoes first appear. After the initial shot of the shoes on her feet, Judy wore different pairs. As stated before, this pair had no felt on the soles.
4. 6 (best guess): (# unknown) this pair was, most likely, a size 6 dancing pair. The condition is unknown, as they never publicly surfaced, and the people who I spoke to who saw and handled them in 1970 do not remember anything about their condition. This pair differed from the others as they had "mustard" yellow felt on the soles. This was the pair that the costumer chose to take as payment for the information about where the shoes could be found. The shoes ended up in the costumer's home on California Avenue in Venice, CA. The costumer's children were allowed to play with the slippers and some Munchkin shoes, after which they were put into the closet of the master bedroom. There is speculation from 2 of the costumer's children that the pair was sold at the costumer's art/collectibles store on W. Washington Blvd (now Abbot Kinney) in Venice, however, no records exist to support the claim that the store still existed in 1970. Numerous other theories exist about what became of the pair. 3/3/2021 update: I was contacted by the costumer's godson who indicated that the costumer had the shoes in her house in Woodland Hills, CA, along with other pieces of movie memorabilia that he can't specifically remember. He later indicated the year was approximately 1975, meaning there is no way the shoes could have been sold in the collectibles store in 1970. He believes that the shoes were most likely sold privately. 5/1/2021 update: I was given the name of an art gallery owner located in California who was reported to have an authentic pair of slippers from production. The claim was made by multiple unrelated sources who saw the pair in the art gallery sometime in 2015 or 2016. While I did not give the initial tip much attention, I did look into it after receiving the second tip. Further investigation into the gallery and owner revealed that the owner was a close friend of the husband of the costumer who took the yellow felt pair in 1970. Several attempts to contact the gallery owner went unanswered, but after the fourth attempt the owner did contact me and indicate that she does not have the "ruby shoes" and has no idea where they might be. She did not respond to the questions about her friendship with the costumer's husband, or the claims that she had a pair of slippers in her gallery several years ago.
While not directly relating to this site, the 7th pair of slippers from production were in Memphis, TN with Roberta Jeffries Bauman, who had won them in a contest in 1940. They are sized at 6B and marked "Double" by the studio in the lining of the shoe, instead of numbered with Judy Garland's name.