Ruby Slipper Timeline
Early 1938 - October 1938:
The silver shoes are changed to "ruby slippers" during this timeframe, and studio staff try several different ways to make the slippers. Among the tests are a painted pair of patent leather shoes. The approved design is a basic wedding pump sold by the Innes Shoe Company that is covered in an overlay of bugle beads. Most likely 2 - 4 pairs of these were produced for production, depending on sizing needs.
October 13 - October 24, 1938:
Filming begins under the direction of Richard Thorpe, with Judy Garland wearing the bugle beaded slippers. Thorpe is fired on October 24 and his footage is discarded. The bugle bead shoes are discarded during some costume changes, reportedly because they were difficult to dance in because of their weight.
October 24 - October 31, 1938:
The ruby slippers are redesigned during this time. Both designs utilize lighter sequins instead of glass bugle beads. The first design is an ornate curled toe version that features glass beads. This pair eventually became known as the "Arabian Test Pair." The other pair tested was the same style pump used for the bugle bead shoes, but the shoes have been covered in lighter sequins. As of the costume test date of October 31, 1938, the shoes were plain and without jeweled bows. The first pair tested would be marked #6 by costuming staff, and would be reserved as a backup pair for if the primary pair was damaged. The sequined pump version was chosen to be the final style of Dorothy's Ruby Slipper.
October 31 - November 3, 1938:
The Ruby Slippers undergo one final design change - the addition of jeweled Art Deco style bows sewn at the throat line of the shoe. The first pair of bows made differed from subsequent bows in several ways: The bugle beads used on the pair were standard width, and thicker than the subsequent beads used; The first bows had 4 additional rhinestones each (2 on the top row and 2 on the bottom row), making them wider than the others made after; The beaded silk overlays were both glued and sewn to the buckram fabric, which is why the two bows made first retain more of the red coloring compared to other bows.
November 4, 1938 - December 8, 1938:
Filming resumes, this time under the direction of Victor Fleming. Publicity stills and scenes filmed early in production show Judy Garland wearing the #1 primary pair. These scenes include meeting the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and the poppy field scene. It is possible that the #1 pair was damaged during the filming of the poppy field scenes and were repaired.
December 9, 1938:
Filming begins on the Munchkinland set. Judy's #1 primary pair cannot be seen in Munchkinland. Instead, Judy wore a combination of slippers: the #7 pair (size 5), the Double pair, (size 6) and the Yellow Felt pair (size 6). It is possible that the primary pair was being repaired while Munchkinland filming took place, which ended on December 30, 1938. Still photos were taken on the Munchkinland set on December 17, 1938. One undated publicity photo on set shows Judy possibly wearing the #1 pair, or it may be the yellow felt pair.
December 12, 1938:
Some witch's castle scenes are shot. Judy can be seen wearing the #6 pair in the initial shots inside the castle. The closeup shot of the shoes shocking the hands of the witch are the #1 pair, which appear to show signs of wear, including missing paint on the rubber top lift, and general wear at the front of the shoes.
January 3 - 6, 1939:
The Haunted Forest scenes are filmed. Identifying the shoes worn during this period is more difficult. In the scene where Bobbie Koshay is carried off by the flying monkeys, she appears to be wearing the yellow felt pair of slippers, which shows signs of dirt on the felt.
January 9, 11, 13, 1939:
Filming begins on the ultimately deleted Jitterbug number. Surviving footage is not clear enough to identify which pair(s) of slippers were used during this time. Most likely, as it was an extended dance scene, Judy would have worn one of the size 6 pairs.
January 14, 1939:
"Who rang that bell?" scene is filmed - publicity photos outside the Emerald City show Judy Garland wearing the #6 pair at this time. The pair also appears in the closeup shot of the slippers in that scene.
January 17 - mid February, 1939:
Emerald City interior scenes are filmed. Judy can be seen wearing a number of slippers in those scenes. During "If I were King of the Forest," she wore the #1 primary pair. While walking down the hallway to the throne room, she can be seen wearing the #6 pair. In the throne room, she can be seen wearing the #1 pair again.
February 13, 1939:
"The Wizard's Presentation" is filmed this week. In the final cut Judy can be seen wearing the Double pair of slippers.
February 25, 1939:
Publicity photos are taken. Judy Garland can be seen wearing the Double pair of slippers in all photos taken this day.
February 27 - March 10, 1939:
In addition to Kansas scenes, Ray Bolger's Scarecrow dance scene is reshot. In the reshot scenes Judy is wearing the Double pair of slippers - in the final film she alternates between the #1 pair and the Double pair, depending on when the scene shown was filmed.
July 5, 1939:
The final cut of the film is finished. By this point, all of the wardrobe from the film would have been put into MGM's form off deep storage, as very few of the costumes could be reused without being recognized. The costumes would stay in the highest floor of an old garage on the MGM lot that predated the studio itself. Here the costumes would stay mostly undisturbed until found by Kent Warner in 1970. Save for one pair, all of the Ruby Slippers were stored here. One pair, the Double pair Judy was wearing at the end of production, were most likely sent to New York to dress the feet of a life-sized Dorothy mannequin.
Roberta Jeffries wins the "Double" pair of Ruby Slippers in a 'Name the best movies of 1939' contest. She, like most other people, believed there was only one pair of slippers, and that she had them. Roberta stored her treasured slippers in a closet, and would occasionally show them at the local library.
January - March, 1970:
Kent Warner is hired to work on the famous MGM auction, specifically in the hope that he will find the Ruby Slippers. Other costumers were surprised to see him at the studio, as he had been banned from the property after having attempted to steal some silent dance footage from one of the studio vaults in the 1960's. Kent has his work cut out for him trying to find the slippers, as the studio has decades of old costumes and props stashed in almost every area of the studio. He asks MGM auction employee and former costumer Rikki Roberts to ask her mother, Kitty Mager, who is head of ladies' wardrobe and has been at the studio since the early 1940's, where the slippers might be. Kitty agrees to tell him where she believes the costumes are, but in exchange for the information, Kent has to give one of the pairs of slippers to her daughter.
Using the information Kitty gave him, Kent locates the "Oz" costumes on the top floor of the old garage on the studio lot. Kent's story is that he found the sparkling red shoes amongst a sea of green shoes used in the Emerald City scenes, and that a ray of sunlight came through a hole in the roof and hit a sequin. If that is true, Kent would have had to find the slippers during the day. Kent did not take the slippers off of the lot until later that evening, while it was raining. He smuggled the shoes out of the studio in a burlap satchel. While exiting the studio via 1st Avenue towards the now unguarded exit onto Washington Boulevard, Kent ran into his friend, costumer Eugene Murray. Eugene was working on the television show "Medical Center" and had been asked by the director to retrieve something from another lot. During this encounter, Kent excitedly showed Eugene the contents of his burlap satchel, and stated that he had found 6 pairs of Judy Garland's Ruby Slippers. Among the pairs were 4 sequined pumps used in the final film, one used but discarded pair of Bugle Beaded slippers that Judy had worn during the Thorpe shot footage, and the Arabian Test Shoes photographed in a costume test on October 31, 1938.
Kent took all of the pairs of slippers home where he examined them. The pairs varied from size 5BC, 5C, to size 6 (width unknown, but most likely B). It is also possible (and probable) that he intermixed the #1 and #6 pairs at this time, as the shoes were in their correct pairings throughout filming. Their conditions would not have matched - the #1 pair was used significantly more than the #6 pair, but by the time two of the shoes were put into the MGM auction, the condition of both shoes were visibly worn and matched each other. It is my belief that Kent removed some sequins and rhinestones from the #6 shoe that was turned into the auctioneers so the condition would match the #1 shoe that was also being turned in.
The sister pair to the auction shoes show signs of repair that were not done by the studio - namely, a number of sequins being glued to the toe area of the #1 shoe. This resulted in the 2nd pair looking much more pristine than the pair put up for auction. The sister pair was sold to collector Michael Shaw for $2,500.
Kent chose to keep the pair in best condition for himself, as he believed they were the only 'insert' pair of slippers and would have been used in the climactic tapping scene at the end of the movie. Kent's assumption was incorrect. His pair of slippers were the pair worn by Judy Garland as soon as she got the shoes in Munchkinland, and the pair shown on the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East. The pair appeared nowhere else in the final film. In reality, all of the pairs made for production were used in close-up shots, with the exception of the yellow felt pair of slippers.
Rikki Roberts was allowed to choose which pair of slippers she wanted - most likely after Kent had chosen his. Rikki chose the size 6 pair that had yellow felt on the soles. They reportedly bore Judy Garland's name on the inside like the others, and were definitely worn by her at least once during filming, but I also believe this pair was worn by stand in and stunt double Bobbie Koshay. It is unknown why the yellow felt was used when other pairs had orange, although it may have been a quick indicator to studio staff that it was the preferred pair for Bobbie Koshay, and matched the yellow brick road. Rikki brings her slippers home and lets her children play with them before putting them in a box and storing them in her closet.
The Arabian Test Shoes were sold to Debbie Reynolds for a reported $300. Many people believe this was a consolation pair for Debbie, who some allege was supposed to receive the pair sold to Michael Shaw. Surely Kent would have provided a screen used pair to her if he had any left, but the other pairs had already been claimed.
The bugle bead shoes found during this time have never publicly surfaced. Michael Shaw claims that the pair went to a "friend of Kent's" who also received one of the screen-used pairs. Other than Shaw, Rikki Roberts was the only person to receive a screen used pair, and she never had the bugle bead shoes.
April 5, 1970:
The Los Angeles Times announces the auction and mentions the slippers will be available.
May 17, 1970:
The auction pair of Ruby Slippers sells to an anonymous 'Southern California Millionaire" for $15,000. The sale makes national news.
May 20, 1970:
Roberta Jeffries Bauman is interviewed for a in The Memphis Press-Scimitar where she tells how she received the Ruby Slippers in a contest in 1940. Roberta's story also makes national news, and the announcement raises many questions, with people finally realizing that there must have been multiple pairs of slippers used during filming. This angers the anonymous millionaire that paid $15,000 for what he believed were the only pair of shoes.
Rikki Roberts pair of Ruby Slippers are viewed by her godson in her Woodland Hills home. Roberts claimed that the slippers were stolen in a burglary in West Hollywood after moving around this time.
Kent Warner takes his prized pair of Ruby Slippers of display in his home and puts them in a closet. He expresses to finds that he is tired of people taking interest in the shoes. During this time, Warner loans his pair of slippers to fellow costumer and close friend Bill Thomas. Thomas shows the slippers to a number of people and claims they are his property, telling people the story of how he found them on the MGM lot, using Kent's story for the facts.K
The Southern California Millionaire anonymously donates the slippers to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. They would go on permanent exhibit and become one of the museum's most popular artifacts. Decades later, the slippers would be attributed to a donation from Merle Banta, Fred Carr, and Stephen Hinchliffe.
October 21, 1981:
Kent Warner's slippers are auctioned by Christie's East. The auction estimate puts the pair's value between $20,000 and $75,000, but the slippers sell for a disappointing $12,000 to an anonymous California buyer.
June 21, 1988:
Roberta Bauman consigned her slippers to Christie's East, where a $15,000 reserve is set. Published estimates say the shoes could go for between $15,000 and $20,000. The slippers end up selling for $165,000 to Anthony Landini.
August 9, 1988:
After seeing the news of another pair of slippers sold for $165,000, the anonymous buyer(s) who purchased Kent Warners slippers for $12,000 approach Christie's East about selling their pair. Instead of a publicized auction, Christie's arranges a private sale of the slippers to Phillip Samuels of St. Louis, MO, for the same price as the Landini pair. Samuels would loan his pair of slippers to the Smithsonian on two occasions to be shown in place of the Museum's pair, although very few people knew the difference.
Anthony Landini loans his shoes to Disney MGM Studios, where they are a featured attraction outside of the Great Movie Ride. The pair would stay on display for many years.
May 24, 2000:
Anthony Landini consigned his prized pair of slippers for auction. Christie's East once again handles the sale. The pair sells for an astonishing $666,000, including buyer's premium. The buyer is reported to be David Elkouby, however, Elkouby ended up just being the agent for the buyers behind "The Ruby Slippers of Oz, LLC." This pair has not been seen publicly since their purchase in 2000. Their current whereabouts are reportedly in cold storage, or in the living room of the agent for the LLC, depending on who you ask.
August 28, 2005:
Michael Shaw's pair of slippers is stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN. Shaw's pair, dubbed the "Traveling Shoes," had been shown in numerous locations across the country since he purchased them in the early 1970's. Dozens of theories abound about the theft.
Debbie Reynolds sells most of her costume collection, including her Arabian Test Ruby Slippers, through Profiles in History Auction House. The slippers are sold to an anonymous buyer for a reported $510,000.
December 16, 2012:
Phillip Samuel's pair of slippers go up for auction through Profiles in History. They fail to meet the $2,000,000 reserve. Profiles arranges a private sale of the slippers to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for their future museum. Leonardo Dicaprio and Steven Speilberg are reported to be benefactors who help the Academy purchase the shoes.
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History announces their Kickstarter campaign to #KeepThemRuby. The Museum successfully crowdfunds $300,000 to conserve their pair of Ruby Slippers, which have been on almost permanent exhibit since their donation to the museum. The sequins showed signs of fading from being on exhibit for so long.
April 23, 2017:
The Smithsonian's pair of slippers comes off exhibit for conservation work. A new exhibit space is designed paying homage to the 1939 film and "the man behind the curtain."
The size 6 pair of slippers purchased by "The Ruby Slippers of Oz, LLC" are listed for sale on a website for a $6,000,000 asking price. No updated photos of the shoes are shown, and multiple people then claim to have exclusive rights to be selling the slippers. To this day the page is still up and the slippers have not sold.
October 19, 2018:
The newly conserved pair of Slippers at the Smithsonian is unveiled. One of Glinda's recently found wands is also on exhibit with the slippers for the next year. Press and fans gather for photos and a full day celebration of the legacy of the slippers.