Click Your Heels Three Times: The Ruby Slippers of The Wizard of Oz

The timeless classic, The Wizard of Oz, twists its way into Worcester November 8-11. How much do you know about the other star of the show: the ruby slippers?  Read on for little known facts about the slippers, and don’t forget to purchase your tickets for the show.

The originals

Dorothy’s slippers in the book are actually silver, and they were silver on the set, as well, until MGM chief, Louis B. Mayer, realized that the Technicolor production would benefit from the slippers being a beautiful ruby color.

The Smithsonian

There were seven pairs of ruby slippers used for the film, but today there are only five known remaining pairs with owners.

The ruby slippers are displayed in the National Museum of American History in an exhibition called “Icons of American Culture.” They are one of the most asked about artifacts at the Smithsonian. Obtained by an anonymous buyer at an MGM auction in 1970 for $15,000, they have been on display since 1979.

David Elkouby

Elkouby purchased a pair of ruby slippers at auction in 2000 for $600,000.  With commission, the total price tag was $666,000. This is the most recently purchased pair.

Philip Samuels

This pair was originally found at an MGM yard sale. The shoes were auctioned in October of 1981 for $12,000 to an unknown buyer. Samuels purchased them in August 1988 at a privately arranged auction for $165,000.

Debbie Reynolds

These slippers are actually a screen test pair known as the Arabian test slippers.  They were never actually in the movie, as they were thought to be too exotic looking. MGM decided to go with a much simpler “school girl pump” style. Reynolds occasionally loans the shoes out for display.

Michael Shaw

Purchased for $2,500 in 1970, this pair was owned by Michael Shaw for more than 35 years. However, while on display at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the ruby slippers were stolen on August 27, 2005. The pair was recently found by the FBI in September 2018.

Ruby slippers for the modern age

Each pair of ruby slippers has an estimated value of $1.5 million, making them the most expensive Hollywood memorabilia to exist. They have been dubbed by some as “The Holy Grail” of all Hollywood nostalgia.

The House of Winston made a pair of real ruby slippers to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary in 1989 that are valued at $3 million.

To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz,” Warner Bros. enlisted Swarovski crystal and top designers such as Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Betsey Johnson to create new ruby slippers that would answer the question: “If Dorothy were living in the 21st Century, what would she wear?” The complete collection toured through 2009.