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        "The slippers yes, the slippers!"

             by Elaine Willingham

            Click on image for larger view.
What hasn't been said or suspected about the most recognizable pair of shoes in motion-picture history? When people ask me how many pairs of slippers there were, I tell them no one will ever know for sure. When you consider how many might have been made for Judy Garland and her stand-in Bobbie Koshay, the pair that were on the feet of the dead Witch of the East, and the pair that Margaret Hamilton was wearing as she flew by Dorothy's window on a broom in the sepia part of the film who knows?
I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, but I have seen every pair (known of) in existence. A book titled The Ruby Slippers of Oz, by Rhys Thomas, goes into detail explaining how many pairs were rescued from the incinerator by a man who worked at MGM's costume department in the 60's, named Kent Warner. Warner, to say the least was a multifaceted individual and quite a wheeler-dealer but most assuredly a treasure hunter and a very successful one. This pair was given to the Smithsonian by an anonymous donor.
No matter what anyone has to say about Warner, bottom line, if it weren't for him the only pair of slippers that would be in existence today would be the pair that were won by a student in 1940 named Roberta Bauman. Bauman won this pair as the second-place prize, in a contest called, "Name the Ten Best Movies of 1939". Though the story of the slippers is expertly detailed in Thomas' book, we thought you might enjoy seeing these pictures. This photo was taken of Roberta Bauman's slippers prior to the auction.
Forty-eight years later, in June of 1988, Bauman's slippers were offered in an auction at Christie's East, they sold for an unheard of price--$165,000 to Anthony Landini. Since his acquisition, Landini loaned his pair to Disney World for over a decade where they were on display at Disney MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida from 1989 until 2000. Here Tony Landini met Roberta Bauman at the Ruby Slipper unveiling at Disney MGM (1989).
Landini's slippers were on display for over a decade as people entered The Great Movie Ride. Here a few of the Munchkins were in attendance for that unveiling in Orlando in 1989. From left to right: Olive Brasno Wayne, wife of Munchkin Gus Wayne, Munchkin Karl Slover, an unidentified woman from Disney, Munchkin's Jeanne LaBarbara Drake, Meinhardt Raabe, and his wife Marie.
However, a few days after Landini purchased Roberta's pair in 1988, another gentleman named Philip Samuels also purchased a pair of slippers from Christie's East. Samuels, a well-respected fine art dealer in St. Louis heard that the couple who had purchased a pair at Christie's years earlier for $15,000 had decided to part with their pair, if they would fetch the same price that the Bauman pair did. Samuels was thrilled to get a a second chance to buy the slippers. He had been the last person bidding against Landini during the '88 Bauman auction. The pair Samuels bought are known as the "Witches Slippers" they have a higher heel and are susspected to be the pair that were on the dead witch of the East's feet when Dorothy's house fell on her and killed her. So, that same week, two pairs of slippers were sold at Christie's for $150,000 plus a $15,000 commission fee. Both Samuels and Landini paid a grand total of $165,000 per pair.
Samuels unveiled his pair for the first time in December 10th, 1988 at a fundraiser benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Four of us were in attendence, Steve Cox, Tod Machin, (guest of honor) Munchkin Mickey Carroll and myself. What a magical evening. We felt as though we were transported to neverland via fairy-dust. It was an enchanted evening orchestrated in grand style at Samuels' posh contemporary art gallery in Clayton, Missouri. Since his slipper purchase, Samuels has graciously loaned his pair to the Smithsonian twice when their pair has been out on tour. Here is Samuels pair as we viewed them for the first time in December of 1988.
In 1990 during the Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, this pair owned by private collector Michael Shaw were on display. Rhys Thomas interviewed Shaw when he was working on his book; excerpts from his conversations with Shaw can be found in The Ruby Slippers of Oz.
This is a side shot of one of Debbie Reynolds' test Slippers. They are known better as the "Arabian Slippers." These had been on public display when Ms. Reynolds had her casino/museum in Las Vegas. Her museum collection is currently looking for a new home, the casino closed a few years ago.
Landini's slippers were auctioned off at Christie's East in New York City on May 24th, 2000 for $666,000 the winning bidder, David Elkouby, a movie memorabilia collector who plans to open a Hollywood museum to showcase the slippers.

Elkouby's Ruby Slippers
For more information on the Ruby Slippers, look for this book at libraries, Internet auctions, used book stores, or order it directly from the author via e-mail Click here to order a mint copy of the book second edition for $19 ($15 + $4 shipping). We hope you have enjoyed this glance at some of the many pairs of ruby slippers that were made for The Wizard of Oz. How many pairs of Slippers there were exactly will forever remain an unsolved mystery.


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