Pop Culture


Intrigue and mystery and sequins, oh, my! All in a pair of size 5 1/2 slippers, ruby slippers, that is.

(Soundbite of "The Wizard of Oz")

Ms. BILLIE BURKE: (As Glinda, the Good Witch of the North) Aren't you forgetting the ruby slippers?

Ms. MARGARET HAMILTON: (As the Wicked Witch of the West) The slippers, yes, the slippers.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. HAMILTON: (As the Wicked Witch of the West) They're gone! The ruby slippers! What have you done with them? Give them back to me, or I'll...

Ms. BURKE: (As Glinda, the Good Witch of the North) It's too late. There they are and there they'll stay.

NORRIS: Or so we wish. The pair of original ruby slippers used in the filming of the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz" are missing, stolen last month from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Garland's birthplace. They were on loan from owner Michael Shaw, a Hollywood collector, and insured for $1 million. Jim Ginavan is director of the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. He was planning to display the slippers as part of OZtoberfest, a Dorothy-themed celebration.

Mr. JIM GINAVAN (Director, Oz Museum): The ruby slippers are an icon. I mean, people out there know "The Wizard of Oz"; they grew up with it. If you mention ruby slippers to somebody, they know you're talking about "The Wizard of Oz." You don't even have to say it.

NORRIS: How are "Wizard of Oz" fans responding to all of this?

Mr. GINAVAN: Yeah, you know, from what I've heard, they were devastated. I mean, the day that I came in and got the phone call that they were gone, I was, of course, devastated because we've put so much time and energy into bringing them here. We've got our first festival going on, the OZtoberfest, and it was one part of that festival. The festival's continuing. There's nothing stopping us. I mean, we've got five of the Munchkins that are coming. We're doing the stage production, "The Wizard of Oz." We have a museum that has quite a few items. The shoes was just going to be a special exhibit. And so we really were looking forward to having that exhibit and bringing lots of people here. And it was returning the shoes home to Kansas. It would have been a really, really nice thing to have them. We're still getting the Wicked Witch's hat. We're still getting the Dorothy dress, the gingham dress. And we're still getting Munchkin uniforms and a pair of Emerald City gloves. So we still have a special exhibit; we just don't have the shoes.

NORRIS: Well, there are lots of Oz aficionados that have essentially put out an APB. There are T-shirts, tank tops, bracelets all asking, `Who stole the ruby slippers?'

Mr. GINAVAN: Right. And you know what? It's our hope that they show up. We hate to see, you know, something like this happen. And I hope the person who stole them gets a conscience. This is a small community; it's 5,000 people. We--this festival is a big deal. We've got the Kansas Children's Service League, who is the foster care and adoption agency for Kansas, that is participating. And the shoes were going to be used to help fund-raise and support that entity. That's not happening right now.

NORRIS: And, Jim, I heard you say that five of the original Munchkins...

Mr. GINAVAN: Yeah.

NORRIS: ...were coming to your festival.

Mr. GINAVAN: You bet. We've got Clarence Swenson, Margaret Pellegrini, Mickey Carroll, Carl Slover and Meinhardt Raabe. Now Meinhardt turned 90 years old, and so he's the oldest one coming. And Meinhardt was the coroner. And we're looking forward to having him here. We've had Clarence and Margaret here in the past, and people have just loved it, you know. They're actually going to do a little cameo appearance in the stage production, which is going to be a blast, you know. So we've got lots of fun things planned.

NORRIS: Well, Jim Ginavan, thanks so much for talking to us. Good luck with the festival, and I hope those slippers come back to you and soon.

Mr. GINAVAN: Yeah, I hope they come back to Kansas, too.

NORRIS: Jim Ginavan is director of the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. You can see a photo of Judy Garland wearing the famous ruby slippers at our Web site, npr.org.

(Soundbite of "The Wizard of Oz")

JUDY GARLAND: (As Dorothy Gale) Yes, I'm ready now.

Ms. BURKE: (As Glinda, the Good Witch of the North) Then close your eyes and tap your heels together three times and think to yourself, `There's no place like home. There's no place like home.'

GARLAND: (As Dorothy) There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

(Soundbite of music)

GARLAND: (As Dorothy) There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

NORRIS: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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