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The Mind-Boggling Mystery of the Ruby Slippers

 by Danielle Maestretti

Tags: Great Writing, mysteries, Wizard of Oz, ruby slippers, Tim Gihring, Minnesota Monthly, Danielle Maestretti,

Judy Garland as DorothyDid you know that the ruby slippers are missing?

Did you know that there are at least four pairs of ruby slippers walking this earth? (Only one set is missing.)

Whether or not you’re a Wizard of Oz fan—and, ahem, whether or not you ever ruined a perfectly good pair of your mother’s pumps with glue, red puff paint, and a motley assortment of sequins and rhinestones—“Who Stole the Ruby Slippers?” is a fascinating, page-turning look at a still-unsolved mystery with a lot of strange players involved. (Munchkins! Museum directors! Small-town cops! Mickey Rooney, sort of!)

Tim Gihring, who wrote the rollicking piece for the March issue of Minnesota Monthly, follows the cult of the ruby slippers into some surprising places, starting with the unlikeliest of all: a jumbled pile of shoes inside a “rotting, rat-infested warehouse” at MGM, where they sat until 1970, some 30 years after the film’s release. He describes an early encounter with the missing slippers, which were stolen from a Grand Rapids, Minnesota, museum in 2005:

I decided they were the kind of shoes no woman would wear who didn’t need them to leave a land of kindly midgets. They were both gaudier and plainer than I expected, rather squat and completely covered in sequins, like Elvis in his later years. Only the marvel of Technicolor made them dazzle. Without the devotion of their fans, they would fetch no more than $20 at a thrift store.

Source: Minnesota Monthly