A dress worn by Judy Garland in 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" was found at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., decades after the garment went missing at the school. Photo courtesy of Catholic University
July 9 (UPI) -- A long-lost dress worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz has been found decades later in a box at a university in Washington, D.C.
Catholic University announced in a news release that the dress, which was gifted to the school nearly 50 years ago by actress Mercedes McCambridge while she was serving as the drama department's artist-in-residence, was found by drama department lecturer Matt Ripa in a box placed atop some mail slots near his desk.
Ripa said he had often gone searching for the dress during his free time after hearing about the long-lost item in 2014, but he was apparently beaten to the discovery by Thomas Donahue, a now-retired drama professor, who had placed the box in Ripa's office before leaving the school last year.
Ripa said the box must have been placed atop the mail slots by someone, causing it to evade his notice until last month.
"As soon as I popped the top off the box, I knew what it was," Ripa told The Washington Post. "I saw that blue gingham and I just started laughing and laughing. I mean, I'm still laughing. Because I was shocked, holding a piece of Hollywood history right in my hands."
The school contacted Ryan Lintelman, entertainment curator at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History, to verify whether the dress was authentic. Lintelman and two colleagues examined the garment and determined that it appears to be the real deal.
Lintelman said the dress is the sixth version of Dorothy's dress from the 1939 film known to still exist.