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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Dorothy's dress from "The Wizard of Oz" sold at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London for $270,270. Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
“If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with.” Dorothy—"The Wizard of Oz."

The dress is simple. Its blue-and-white checkered, gingham cotton, designed in the style of a 1939 pinafore. It’s something you would probably pass up if you saw it the local thrift store.

What makes the dress special is the label. Inscribed in black ink inside the bodice is the name Judy Garland. What’s more, it was the original outfit Garland wore as Dorothy in the movie "The Wizard of Oz."

The dress went up for sale on April 27, 2005, in the Rock ‘n’ Roll & Film Memorabilia auction at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London and sold for $270,270. More than four times its estimate.

Why so much? It’s pretty obvious. The dress and the movie are legendary. "The Wizard of Oz" seems to be everyone’s favorite movie at some point in life. A rite of passage. A love song to innocence and courage. How often do you see Dorothy’s dress show up on the block?

MGM’S wardrobe head, Gilbert Adrian came up with at least four different costume designs for Judy to wear in the film. Test shots taken in 1938 show her wearing three. None were approved. Instead, a variation of one of them was the final choice.

Besides costumes, in the 1930s Adrian created classic looks for such Hollywood divas as Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Harlow, and Joan Crawford. He was known for extravagant draped evening gowns; hooded dresses; embroidered, padded evening jackets; and stylish suits. Through his vision, Hollywood became a glamour Mecca.

According to Marian Parker, MGM’S seamstress at the time, once a decision was made on Garland’s costume for "The Wizard of Oz", about a half dozen were sewn. It was Judy’s main outfit. So, it had to hold up under long hours of shooting. Tailored to fit the 17-year-old actress, the waist-size measured 27 inches.

As it was, the movie took almost six months to film. It was the longest shoot to date in MGM’S history. There were several changes of director and cost almost $2.8 million. With that price tag, the movie executives were biting their nails.

Little did they know "The Wizard of Oz" was destined to become classic Hollywood folklore. The musical won Oscars for Best Score and Best Song in 1940, plus a nomination in four other categories. Judy received a special Juvenile Award.

“We are absolutely delighted at this world record price. This is a fairytale ending to one of the most romantic pieces of movie costume to be offered at auction,” said Jon Baddeley, Group Head of the Collector’s Department at Bonhams.

The dress was bought by a London businessman as a surprise 32nd birthday present for his wife who had been passionate about the film since childhood.

Here are some current values for other Rock ‘n’ Roll & Film memorabilia offered in the auction.

Rock ‘n’ Roll & Film Memorabilia

Lobby card; "The Wizard of Oz"; scene of Dorothy, Tin Man and Scarecrow; 1939; 11 inches by 14 inches; $5,560.

Freddie Mercury’s stage-worn costume; vinyl jeans; white vest with red and yellow arrow motif; 1981-1982; $17,375.

Mick Jagger’s jacket; ivory satin; printed with dragons, pagodas and oriental motifs; 1967; $20,849.

Letter; John Lennon to his father Freddie; reveals his mother’s pregnancy by another man; 1967; one sheet, black ink; $67,181.

"Revolution" song lyrics; John Lennon; Xerox copy with handwritten third verse added by John in blue ink; 1968; 7 1/2 inches by 9 inches; $138,996.

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