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"Haha...well, I'm a little muddled. The Munchkins called me because a new Witch has just dropped a house on the Wicked Witch of the East. And there's the house, and here you are; and that's all that's left of the Wicked Witch of the East. "
Glinda in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
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Ruby Slippers on Dorothy Gale

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The Most Magical Slippers of All Time

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Dorothy clicks her heels in The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The Ruby Slippers are the sparkling red shoes worn by Dorothy Gale in the magical Land of Oz as played by the late Judy Garland in the famous and iconic classic 1939 MGM musical movie The Wizard of Oz. They also made a semi-sequel appearance worn by then child actress Fairuza Balk, who played Dorothy in the 1985 Walt Disney cult classic Return to Oz which stayed more faithful to the tones and themes of L. Frank Baum's underrated Oz books.

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Dorothy clicks her heels in Return to Oz (1985).

Close Your Eyes and Click Your Heels!

Ruby Slippers 1939...

"Those slippers will never come off, as long as you're alive. But that's not what's worrying me - it's how to do it. These things must be done delicately, or you hurt the spell."
Wicked Witch of the West (1939)
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Ruby Slippers 1939

"And remember, never let those Ruby Slippers off your feet for a moment, or you will be at the mercy of the Wicked Witch of the West. "
Glinda (1939)
  • The Dorothy of 1939 was given these enchanted shoes by Glinda, as they are taken from the dead Wicked Witch of the East who was crushed to death under Dorothy's fallen farmhouse after it was carried to the magical Land of Oz via Kansas cyclone. Shortly after Dorothy and her pet dog, Toto, unexpectedly arrived in Munchkinland, they were magically teleported onto her feet by Glinda's wand. This was done to successfully keep them from falling into the hands of the Witch of the East's sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wanted to use their magic to strengthen her own wickedness. Since she was the sister of their original owner she believed they should rightfully be handed down to her. Throughout the entire story she tries many times to retrieve them from Dorothy who set out on an adventure in hopes to find a way back home again. She meets her demise and is ultimately melted by Dorothy with a bucket of water when she imprisoned her in her castle in the haunted forest. In the end Glinda tells Dorothy that she had the power to return back home all along. After she learned that there is no place like home, she clicked her heels three times and woke up in her bed in Kansas surrounded by her loved ones as if it had all been just a dream.


Ruby Slippers 1985...

"Hen, it's been six months since the tornado, and Dorothy hasn't been herself since. I'm taking her to cottonwood tomorrow to see if she can be helped. All she ever talks about is some place that just doesn't exist; talking Tinmen, walking Scarecrows, Ruby Slippers! "
Aunt Em in Return to Oz (1985)
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The Ruby Slippers glow as worn by the Nome King in Return to Oz! (1985)


Dr. Worley: How did you come back from… Oz? Dorothy: With my Ruby Slippers. Dr. Worley: And how did that work? Dorothy: You put them on, and you click the heels three times, and then you say “There’s no place like Home”. 'Dr. Worley: Dorothy, where are those slippers now ...?" Dorothy: ... I lost them. They fell off, on the way back...-Return to Oz (1985)

  • The Dorothy of 1985 (semi-Dorothy of 1939) takes place six months after the first adventure in Oz happened. The story eventually explains that when she clicked her heels, she accidentally lost the Ruby Slippers on the way back to Kansas. They just "fell out of the sky one day" as she was so anxious to get home. As a result they had fallen into the hands of the evil Nome King from a neighboring kingdom who used them to successfully conquer the magical Land of Oz, rob the Emerald City of all its precious emeralds, kidnap the Scarecrow, destroy the Yellow Brick Road, and turn all the Ozians to stone. Eventually Dorothy defeated him and his accomplice, Princess Mombi, with a poison egg. After she retrieved the shoes and used their magic to restore all of Oz back to life, Dorothy was asked to be the Queen of Oz but instead released the long lost Princess Ozma from the mirror she had been trapped in. After her curse was broken, she rightfully took the throne as her own and Dorothy adorned the Ruby Slippers on her feet. In the end she used them to send Dorothy back home again, under the condition that she visited Oz from time to time.
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Dorothy puts the Ruby Slippers on Princess Ozma's feet in Return to Oz. (1985)

"I will be looking in on you from time to time, and if you ever wish to return to Oz, I shall make it so..."
Ozma in Return to Oz (1985)

Ruby Slippers or Silver Shoes?

"Now those Magic Slippers will take you home in two seconds! "
Glinda (1939)
"The Silver Shoes," said Glinda, "have many mysterious amd wonderful powers held within them. And one of the most astonishing things about them is that they can carry you to any place in the world in three steps, and each step will be made in the wink of an eye. All you have to do is to knock the heels together three times and command the shoes to carry you wherever you wish to go. "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

In L. Frank Baum's original tale, the first Dorothy Gale wore shoes made out of silver with pointed toes. The pair of charmed footwear were refered to not as slippers in Baum's book but "Silver Shoes".

The only thing the Silver Shoes have in common with the Ruby Slippers is that they were both once owned by the Wicked Witch of the East and can teleport it's wearer to any place in the world when the heels are clicked together three times.

In circa 1937 MGM announced that they would be adapting L. Frank Baums' classic story into a musical starring a sixteen year old Judy Garland as twelve year old Dorothy Gale. In post production the shoes were officially changed from metallic silver to blood red due to the MGM studio company wanting to take advantage of the new state of the art Technicolor that had been introduced in cinema. They believed glittering red would appear more, breathtaking and dazzling to the eye on film and would be a better focal point against any other surroundings. Thus letting the shoes stand out better on the big screen than silver would as they feared silver would get lost in the picture and blend in. So in 1938, silver was replaced with red and the Ruby Slippers would become a household name and the most popular version of footwear worn by the character of Dorothy. And would capture the hearts of millions of people for decades to come, being labeled as the most memorable and beautiful pairs of shoes to ever be seen on screen. Even 70+ years after its original making.

The Ruby Slippers have more powers attributed to them than the silver shoes. In the 1939 film we learn that the pair cannot be taken off unless through death and were even able to send volts of electricity out to shock the Wicked Witch of the West's fingers before she was even able to touch them. In Baum's original story, nothing of the sort is ever mentioned in the 1900 book. The Silver Shoes only have the power of teleportation. Once the heels are knocked against each other three solid times and given directions, the pair will take three fast steps so sudden that the wearer will travel in the speed of lightning to their destination in exactly three seconds no matter the distance.

Because of their iconic stature, the Ruby Slippers are now among the most treasured and valuable of film memorabilia. As was customary for important props, a number of pairs were made for the film. Thus being auctioned for thousands and even millions of dollars. There are several pairs of Ruby Slippers, though the exact number is unknown. Five pairs are known to have survived since 1939.

The Wizard of Oz (1982): Ruby Slippers?

Dorothy clicking her heels 1982 anime movie

Dorothy clicking the heels of her red magic slippers in The Wizard of Oz (1982 anime movie)

The 1982 anime movie The Wizard of Oz is known for being particularly close to the original novel, but there are some differences. In the case of Dorothy's magic shoes, they very much resemble the silver shoes from the original novel, but with one major difference; they are red like the ruby slippers from the 1939  movie. In the English dubbed version, they are referred to as "magic slippers", but no indication is given on what they are made of, be it silver, rubies, or anything else. They make a metallic "chink" sound when Dorothy clicks the heels, indicating that they are likely made of a precious metal.

In the original novel, the silver shoes were lost after Dorothy used them to return home. In the 1982 movie, no mention of the magic slippers is made after Dorothy uses them, but she can still be seen wearing them even when she is back in Kansas.

Crafting The Ruby Slippers

"Close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, 'There's no place like home..."
Glinda (1939)
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Authentic Innes Shoe Company shoes, in the same style as the original Ruby Slippers, from the collection of Oz collector Walter Krueger. This pair has now been sequined to appear like the original ruby slippers.

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Auction photo for the pair of slippers now owned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The actual shoes beneath the sparkly sequined fabric overlays were 1930's style white silk pumps with an approximately one & a half inch heel from "Innes Shoe Company" with locations in Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Pasadena, California. Some of the shoes had a gold or silver stamp with the company logo, while at least one other pair had a cloth logo label sewn to the insole of the right shoe.

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A close up of the pair of Ruby Slippers once owned by Kent Warner and now in the collection of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The shoes were dyed red by M-G-M costuming staff, and then covered in a reddish orange georgette fabric which served as the base for the stitching. An estimated 4,600 metallic dark red gelatin sequins were used on each pair. Multiple pairs of the ruby slippers were made, but the exact number created for the production is a matter of debate. The bows on each shoe were sewn on reddish orange fabric overlays which were fitted over thinned red leather. The bows are outlined with 46 rose montee rhinestones, three large art deco style center red glass jewels with gold reflective backing, and varying numbers of bugle beads.
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The pair of slippers now owned by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Arabian Test Shoes

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Judy models Ruby Slippers.

On October 31, 1938, Judy Garland tested two different styles of ruby slippers. One shoe was the sequined left shoe of the pair now in the Smithsonian, but without the bow attached for the test photo. On the other foot, Judy wore a wild looking, curly toed shoe covered in sequins, shield shaped glass beads, and rhinestones. These curled toed shoes were not used in any filming - discarded or used. They were deemed too ornate for Judy Garland's Dorothy and were subsequently put into storage until discovered by costumer Kent Warner in 1970. These shoes have become known as the "Arabian Test Shoes" and were owned by actress Debbie Reynolds until they were auctioned in 2011.

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A test version of the Ruby Slippers.

Return to Oz 1985

" I wish all of us from Oz, would return there safely, and for the Emerald City and all the people in it to be restored back to life! "
Return to Oz (1985)

Like many elements in the 1939 film, Dorothy's iconic Ruby Slippers have passed into the realm of popular legend to become, quite possibly, the most famous piece of costuming in all of motion picture history. Their inclusion in Return to Oz was never really in question, and they are the only genuine physical and visual tie that viewers of the newer Oz film will have to the earlier one. But their appearance in such a major cinematic effort did pose problems, both legal and physical. As created by L. Frank Baum, the shoes were of course, not red at all, but silver. However, Walter Murch who was the director of the 1985 Disney Oz film, felt that people who were unfamiliar with the original story would not know or understand why Dorothy wore shoes of silver if they had not read the original Oz book of 1900. So the shoes were kept red for audiences could relate and feel more comfortable seeing the Ruby Slippers instead of the silver ones while other aspects of the film were portrayed more faithfully and accurately to what Baum himself originally envisioned when he created the general concept for Oz.

When MGM changed the color in 1938 during the making of their musical movie, they became an integral part of their film as well as MGM's legal rightful property. So to avoid copyright infringement, special permission had to be obtained from Metro Goldwyn Mayer in order for the Ruby Slippers to appear in a Walt Disney picture.

The new Ruby Slippers were hand-made by designer "McPhail". In all, he crafted seven pairs of shoes: two pairs for Emma Ridley who played Princess Ozma, two pair for Nicol Williamson who played the Nome King, and the remaining three for Fairuza Balk who played Dorothy Gale. The shoes are worn by all three characters at different times in all different sizes. But in the film we are made to believe that their is only one pair that magically alter their size to fit its current wearer.

In construction, McPhail started with a plain red leather cork shoe with a "Louis" heel. This was then covered with reflective fabric onto which multi-faceted glass rubies were attached. These rare red stones, imported from Austria, first had to be soaked in sulfuric acid in order to remove their mercury backing. Then, two optical glues were used to attach and hold them in place: one sprayed directly on the fabric and a second attached directly to the shoes. Because of their faceting, each stone had to be place individually on each shoe.

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Return to Oz's Ruby Slippers.

To complicate matters further, no amount of glue was able to hold all the stones permanently in place -especially when they were jostled by under hot sound stage lights by active little girls. The sparkling beauty of the Ruby Slippers was later enhanced in post-production by the additional optical effects, which make the pair seem to glow on screen.

"Fairuza Balk simply could not stay still between scenes," McPhail remembers. "After all, she's only ten years old - you can't expect children to stay put.  Even sitting in a chair, she would do things like tap her feet and click her shoes together. The stones would go rolling across the sound stage, and I would chase after them.  We finally had to take the shoes off her between shots but, even so, I would end up sweeping the stage at the end of each day to try and collect whatever had fallen off."

The Beauty Of Technicolor

"Keep tight inside of them, their magic must be very powerful, or she wouldn't want them so badly! "
Glinda the Good (1939)
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The Ruby Slippers appear on Dorothy's feet.

Screenwriter Noel Langley changed Dorothy's shoes from silver to ruby to take advantage of the Technicolor process used for the movie. Like all the costumes in the film, they were designed by Gilbert Adrian, the head of MGM's costume department.

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"There's No Place Like Home."

Interestingly, the Ruby Slippers used in the film were more burgundy than red. The 3-strip Technicolor process used in 1939 could not reproduce colors with true-to-life fidelity, and various compromises were made out of necessity. Shoes that were actually red would have photographed as orange.

Salman Rushdie wrote a short story titled "The Auction of the Ruby Slippers." In his book The Ruby Slippers of Oz (1989), Rhys Thomas writes about four extant pairs of them.

In Wicked:

In Gregory Maguire's 1995 mature Oz novel titled Wicked, the shoes are not Ruby Slippers. Nor are they Silver Shoes like in Baum's book. The shoes are not called by any specific color or gem. They are created and designed in such a unique and authentic way, that nothing has ever been done nor seen before them. The shoes are the very first of its kind. So instead they are described like this:

"From a pile of ash shavings she withdrew a shoe, and then another. Were they silver? – or blue? – or now red? – lacquered with a candy shell brilliance of polish? It was hard to tell and it didn't matter; the effect was dazzling." (2.3.4.20)

The character Turtle Heart probably describes their symbolism best:

"To look in glass," said Turtle Heart, pointing to the roundel he had made as a toy for Elphaba, "is to see the future, in blood and rubies." (1.8.46)

The shoes are the one thing the Witch wants above all else, both in the musical and Baum's book strictly for the pairs mysterious powers. But Elphaba wants the shoes for slightly different reasons than her movie counterpart. While in the MGM movie and Baum's book, the shoes were symbols of power and protection. In Maguire's reinvisonment the shoes are symbols of what Elphaba has secretly craved all her life; love, respect, acceptance, and family. Above all else, Nessa's shoes represent Elphaba's need to be accepted and considered important, particularly to her father. The shoes aren't just related to themes of family and acceptance, though. They also, as in the movie, represent beauty and authority. Interestingly, though, that becomes more of an excuse for Elphaba to justify her obsession with getting the shoes from Dorothy:

"Should she pursue Dorothy, should she snatch those shoes away – and what were her real motives? Was it to keep them out of the hands of the Wizard ... Or was it to snatch back some small shred of Frex's attention?" (5.10.1)

Ultimately, Elphaba is the one who turns the shoes into something more than they really are. And other than considered dazzling to look at, the shoes really don't have much power at all.

  • (Gregory Maguire combines elements from the 1939 film and paying homage to the 1900 book by Baum by making the slippers both ruby and silver while adding his own twist to his own version of the classic Oz tale.)

In the successful Broadway Musical adaption of Wicked--the shoes are first silver. But when a magic spell is cast upon them to help the handicapped Nessarose walk without any assistance, the shoes appear to turn to a beautiful red in colour due to the walking spell.

In Supernatural

The ruby slippers contain powerful magic, but Dorothy never actually wore them. She felt it would be "tacky" to wear a dead person's shoes. Charlie Bradbury ultimately kills the Wicked Witch with them. (Supernatural: "Slumber Party")

Marilyn Monroe's Ruby Slipper Stilettos

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Marilyn Monroe's Ruby Stilettos.

Marilyn Monroe was one of Hollywood's most glamorous "IT" girls. And even decades after her tragic death she still is viewed as one of the most famous sex symbols of America. Marilyn also knew an icon when she saw one -- and she never hesitated to exploit the archetypal. She had her own "Ruby Slippers" made by Salvatore Ferragamo in circa 1953. Specifically made for the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

Harry Winston's real Ruby Slippers

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House of Harry Winston's real Ruby Slippers

Ronald Winston of the House of Harry Winston recreated the ruby slippers to celebrate the golden anniversary of the film. But to paraphrase Dorothy, he had a feeling that he was not in 1939 anymore. So instead of sequins, he used real rubies, 1,350 carats of it from 4,600 pieces to be exact. That made the creation a truly ruby slipper. He also added 50 carats of diamonds for good measure. They took two months to finish, and when they were finally done, the result was just over the rainbow. 

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