tragedy title

In this time of great human tragedy in the United States, yet another tragedy occurred the same night that hurricane Katrina roared just offshore.  While that horrible storm was in the process of making landfall on our southern states, changing everyones lives forever,  another act was taking place on our northern border that most of America will never hear about. That is why I created this page.

There ARE real life wicked witches.

Sometime on the night/morning of August 27 - 28, 2005 a theft of monumental proportion, (as far as movie memorabilia is concerned) occurred that simply defies description.

Michael Shaw's original pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in THE WIZARD OF OZ  were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota where they were to be displayed on loan through September 5th.

By all accounts,  it would seem that the theft occurred by someone who either knew the museum, knew the ins and outs of the place or had been planning this for some time.  The alarm on the building did not go off.  It is reported that the shoes had been insured by the Judy Garland Museum for $1,000,000.00 prior to the exhibit as part of the agreement.

John Kelsch, director of the Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota said, "We're devastated," Kelsch said. "No one was hurt, no one was killed, no fire was set to the museum. And there's no reason to explain why anyone would do something like this -- except maybe to prove it could be done.

"Michael Shaw is a friend of this museum and has been a special guest at the Judy Garland Festival for years. The slippers are a major attraction at our museum, the birthplace of Judy Garland. It is our hope that the slippers can be recovered immediately."  

Missing Ruby Slippers

- Shoe information -
Shoe Size:
5 1/2 A 
Shoe Construction:
Red faille, covered covered with hand sequined georgette and lined in white kid leather. Inside both shoes in the instep is embossed into the leather  "Innes Shoe Co., Los Angeles, Hollywood, Pasadena".  The shoes are distinctively darker - a rich burgundy color,  than the other known pairs of ruby slippers.  Inscribed inside both shoes is simply "Judy Garland."
Manufacturers Production #:
(Right) 5C 11869 D536 (Left) 5BC 15250
The bows are perfect and are missing no stones.   The actual number of rhinestones & bugle beads are unknown.  The bow itself is cut out of strap leather, 1/8" thick and dyed red.
The soles are painted red.  There are rubber caps on each heel that are not painted.   There is orange felt on the bottoms of the soles (from the toes to just past the ball of the foot).  The felt was used to muffle Judy Garlands' footsteps on the stage floor.

Grand Rapids Police say an emergency-exit-door window was broken. A glass case that contained the ruby slippers was broken and the slippers removed.

The 2-year-old building has the best alarm system available, Kelsch said. It should warn a security firm when doors or windows are opened, or if motion is detected. But the private firm received no signal.

Other "Wizard of Oz" memorabilia within the museum, such as jeweled gloves and original movie programs, were untouched.

Large MS slippers

An open note to the person who took the shoes:

If you have the shoes, please be aware that the shoes were made in 1938/1939 and are approximately 66 years old. They were not made to last any length of time, they were made for a single movie.  It is an amazing fact that the shoes actually still exist in the first place.  The shoes were fragile when they were newly crafted - which can be explained by the number of copies of the shoes that were made.  

Due to their age and condition, they should not be handled by bare hands.  The oil created by your skin can easily damage the sequins possibly removing the dye used to make the sequins red. If it were attempted to put on a human foot at this point, the shoes would without a doubt burst at the seams.  They were crafted from a basic satin pump with a silk overlay which was sewn on. That overlay has many strands of sequins attached by simple thread - 66 year old thread, which could only be described as  brittle at its very best.  If one of the threads were to break, you could potentially cause an entire row of sequins to work its way off the shoe.  The tissue paper inside the shoes should NOT be removed as it is required to maintain the shape of the shoe.  Something as simple as taking the paper out could potentially cause the shoes to fall apart, according to Mr. Shaw.

Mr. Shaw has proven over and over through the years that he is the rightful owner of these shoes.  He understands the power behind them and what they mean to people.  He has done so much good with these shoes by making them available for millions of people to not only see a piece of movie magic, but a true American Treasure.  They have been used in numerous events nationwide to raise funds for everything from various children's charities to AIDS charities.  I have no doubt in my mind that the shoes in our real life have as much power as was implied by the original story and later script of the 1939 classic.

While it is clear that you do not respect his ownership, please respect the fact that you have something that millions of people love, you need to handle them with care.  As much as I love these shoes, I cannot understand the complete selfishness of someone who would take them.  They need to be shared.  They need to go back to their rightful owner, where they can be taken care of properly.

Michael Shaw & his Ruby Slippers

Michael Shaw Website

Michael Shaw's family have put up with their own website, where you can go give any information you might have about the missing shoes.  You can also write directly to them at:

I want you to know, if you are reading this and you have any information about the theft or the whereabouts of the shoes, or know anything and wish not to implicate yourself, write to me at and I will see that the proper people get the information you provide.  

It is not about seeking retribution or putting someone behind bars.  We want to get the shoes back to Michael Shaw, where they belong.  Another way to think about the situation would be:  You've had the shoes - you've had your fun, why risk a felony and prison time if the authorities find you first?  

Simply send the shoes back and fade off into the sunset and live the rest of your life as normal.  

I do not know Michael Shaw personally, but have heard from many, many people, who I respect and trust that he is a fine man who did not deserve to have this happen to him.

As displayed in Grand Rapids 2004, courtesy of Eleanor.

Slippers as displayed in Grand Rapids, courtesy of Eleanor.

You May Also Contact

You may also contact John Kelsch at the Judy Garland Children's Museum at:

1-800-664-JUDY (5839)

Click HERE to go to the Front Page of the Ruby Slipper Fan Club

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Updates:  09/08/05 - Updated shoe information from Michael Shaw, added more images.