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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 speculation that the pair is actually in the house of the agent for the LLC.

Moments in Time Slipper Sale Page

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 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. It is also possible that the person who remembered the overlays being glued to the shoe may have been remembering a pair of sequined shoes made for The Great Ziegfeld film that was released in 1936. 

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, which was also done on the #1 pair as well.  He never said what the original felt color was. 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." 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.” There is a possibility that the other pair(s) of bugle bead slippers were disposed of during one of MGM's costume purges. During these purges, costuming staff were directed to cut up old costumes which where then used for rags. Most likely, costume that could be not be used as rags (i.e. beaded costumes, furs, etc.) were burned to make space.

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.
4.  #1 pair, Judy's primary pair throughout most of the film.
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.  #4 pair (speculated), unknown heel thickness, yellow felt on the soles.  Most likely a size 6 backup dancing pair, probably 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 all shots in the film as well as in publicity photos, 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 after production.  Both pairs were filmed in their original pairings 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 at this time.
 

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 size 5 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, and several components being made of silk.  As for gelatin sequins, 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 had used for my completely 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 top lifts
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 general pattern
Mount bow silk to stiff cotton 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 just an 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. 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. Innes used a number of varying labels and embossed stamps in their shoes as well, even in shoes from the same time period.

 

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 on 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.

What was Western Costume Company's part in making the Ruby Slippers?
 

Not much, based on my research.

 

In the 1980's, a former Western Costume employee by the name of Al Dipardo/Al Depardo told two very different stories about Western Costume’s part in creating the original slippers.  


In a November 5, 1989 Los Angeles Times article written by Lynn Simross, titled “This Rainbow Ends in Pot of Profits,” Dipardo claims that he cut (meaning cut the patterns for) the original slippers, and that his brother in law Joe Napoli created the Ruby Slipper base shoes from his patterns.  He claimed no more than three or four pair had been made, and described them as being white satin shoes with a 1.5” heel.  Note: This description is accurate to the base shoes used on the known ruby slippers, with the exception of the shoes being made of satin; All known authentic pairs were made with faille, a fabric with a texture different than satin. 

Dipardo then went on to say that the base shoes were sent to M-G-M, where the sequins were added.  One pair of these alleged slippers came back to Western Costume for repair, and Dipardo claims that the shoes were “ugly” after Garland wore them.  He claimed the sequins had popped off because they were only glued on, not sewn.  The alleged Western Costume made pairs were said to have had no production numbers or sizes marked in them, but the name “Judy Garland” was written in the shoes by Carmella, Dipardo’s sister in law.

Al Depardo, a different spelling of the same name published in the 1989 article, was quoted by Rhys Thomas telling a very different story.  The quote appeared in the earlier referenced 1988 Rhys Thomas article titled  “The Ruby Slippers: A Journey to the Land of Oz.”  Depardo again claimed that the ruby slippers had been made by Joe Napoli, except the shoes used were not custom made by Western Costume, but brand name pumps that were purchased and sequined by Joe Napoli.  This story completely contradicts the memories he shared in the article published only one year later.

 

Despite the fact that Dipardo knew the basic composition of the base shoes, his contradictory statements, in my mind, all but nullify his claims.  Dipardo’s claims as to the creation of the shoes came quite some time after the true monetary value of the shoes was discovered, and there is no doubt in my mind that his claims helped justify Western Costume’s $5,000 replica slipper price tag.  

I also have unpublished interview transcripts from Aljean Harmetz who spoke to former MGM costuming staff, who describe the accurate method of how the shoes were made.  This beading style is not something a shoemaker would need to know in order to make shoes.

As virtually no evidence existed to support the claim that Western made the shoes, and the two completely different recollections told by Al Dipardo/Depardo, I didn’t believe Western Costume had much to do with the creation of the sequined pump version of the shoes.  I'm sure that Western created the base shoes used for what became known as the “Arabian Test Shoes,” as the style shoe used for those would not be something that could be purchased outright at a shoe store, but there is no evidence to support their claim that they made the slippers seen in the final film.

Can you give any information on pairs that have been claimed to be real that you have debunked?

Hollywood Museum Pair: replica. Made by costumer Donald "Don-Ya" Ortiz.
Bill Thomas: in the late 1970's, Bill Thomas had two pairs of slippers in his possession. The first was a replica pair he had made, the other pair was Kent Warner's. Bill told the story about how he found them - which was actually how Kent found them. When Kent got his pair back and sold them, Bill continued to claim ownership, but said they were in a safe deposit box until he "deserved to see them." 
Joseph Randall, San Diego Search Warrant Shoes: replicas. The base shoes were made of a wood composite. 
Toronto Mark/Mark in Ontario: replicas.
Glenn Beck: Western Costume replicas.

 

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