Slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz recovered 13 years after being stolen

A pair of ruby slippers used in The Wizard of Oz and later stolen from a Minnesota museum were recovered in a sting operation after a man approached the shoes' insurer and said he could help get them back, the FBI said.

The slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in the late actress' hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, when they were taken in 2005 by someone who climbed through a window and broke into a small display case. The shoes were insured for $1 million.

The FBI said a man approached the insurer in summer 2017 and said he could help get them back. Grand Rapids police asked for the FBI's help and after a nearly year-long investigation, the slippers were recovered in July during a sting operation in Minneapolis.

The FBI said no one has yet been arrested or charged in the case, but they have "multiple suspects" and continue to investigate. As they unveiled the recovered slippers at a news conference overnight, they asked anyone with information about the theft to contact them.

"We're not done. We have a lot of work to do," Christopher Myers, the US attorney for North Dakota, said.

Myers said he would handle any prosecution. The North Dakota link to the case wasn't evident and authorities declined to explain it.

The slippers had been on loan to the Garland museum from Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw. Three other pairs that Garland wore in the movie are held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian and a private collector.

The stolen slippers' authenticity was verified by comparing them with the pair at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History in Washington.

The ruby slippers are key in the 1939 movie. After mysteriously landing in the colourful Land of Oz after a tornado hit her farm in Kansas, Garland's character, Dorothy, has to click the heels of her slippers three times and repeat "there's no place like home" to return.

Rhys Thomas, author of The Ruby Slippers of Oz, called the slippers "the Holy Grail of Hollywood memorabilia."

"They are maybe the most iconic cinematic prop or costume in movie history, and in fact, in cultural history," Thomas said. "They are a cultural icon."

Thomas estimated that this particular pair could be worth between $2 million to $7 million. He said it's not clear in which scenes they were used, but he was "99 percent" sure that they appeared in the film.

Thomas said the slippers then went unseen for 30 years until Shaw, acting as a middleman, bought them for someone who intended to sell them to the late actress Debbie Reynolds, but Shaw ended up keeping them and often loaned them for exhibits.

Law enforcement offered a $250,000 reward early in the case, and a fan in Arizona offered another $1 million in 2015.

The shoes are made from about a dozen different materials, including wood pulp, silk thread, gelatin, plastic and glass. Most of the ruby colour comes from sequins but the bows of the shoes contain red glass beads.

The genre-busting Wizard of Oz — presented in black and white, and colour — was a box office smash and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, with wins for Best Song and Best Original Score.

Garland, who was born Frances Gumm, lived in Grand Rapids, about 320 kilometres north of Minneapolis, until she was 4, when her family moved to Los Angeles. She died of a barbiturate overdose in 1969.

The Judy Garland Museum, which opened in 1975 in the house where she lived, says it has the world's largest collection of Garland and Wizard of Oz memorabilia.

FILE - This April 10, 1996, file photo shows one of the four pairs of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" on display during a media tour of the "America's Smithsonian" traveling exhibition in Kansas City, Mo. Federal authorities say they have recovered a pair of ruby slippers worn by Garland that were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., in August 2005 when someone went through a window and broke into the small display case. The shoes were insured for $1 million. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)
The ruby slippers one of the four pairs worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. Source: Associated Press



Read Deadpool 2 star Rob Delaney's heartbreaking essay on son's cancer battle

Rob Delaney has penned a heartbreaking essay on his son's cancer battle, after the toddler passed away aged just two-years-old.

The Deadpool 2 star was struck by tragedy earlier this year when his son Henry - whom he had with his wife Leah - lost his battle with brain cancer, and has now shared an emotional essay that was originally penned as part of a book he wanted to release for parents of sick children.

Rob decided to stop writing the book when he saw his son's last "bad MRI scan", saying he and his family "just wanted to be with him around the clock and make sure his final months were happy."

Read full essay excerpt here.

Explaining why he posted the excerpt on Medium yesterday, the 41-year-old comedian wrote: "The reason I'm putting this out there now is that the intended audience for this book was to be my fellow parents of very sick children.

"They were always so tired and sad, like ghosts, walking the halls of the hospitals, and I wanted them to know someone understood and cared.

"I'd still like them to know that ... But I can't write that book anymore because our family's story has a different ending than I'd hoped for. Maybe I'll write a different book in the future, but now my responsibility is to my family and myself as we grieve our beautiful Henry."

The essay focuses on the months surrounding Henry's diagnoses and how his family helped the tot deal with his treatment, and Rob says that despite his son's condition, he felt "excited" to see him at the hospital.

Rob writes in part: "I may wish Henry wasn't in the hospital and it may make me f***ing sick that my kids haven't lived under the same roof for over a year. But I'm always, always happy to enter the hospital every morning and see him.

"It's exciting every day to walk into his room and see him and see him see me."

The actor cuts off his essay "abruptly", as he never finished the story before he learned Henry's diagnoses was terminal.

He said: "I'm aware this ends somewhat abruptly. The above was part of a book proposal I put together before Henry's tumour came back and we learned that he would die. I stopped writing when we saw the new, bad MRI.

"My wife and his brothers and I just wanted to be with him around the clock and make sure his final months were happy. And they were."

Rob Delaney with his son Henry. Source: Twitter


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Serena Williams is 'proud' of her friend Meghan Markle's charity work

Tennis champion Serena Williams has revealed she's "proud" of Meghan Markle after she launched a cookbook in support of the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The 37-year-old royal has written the foreword to a recipe book from cooks at the Hubb Community Kitchen, which is based in London, and the Duchess of Sussex has revealed she felt "connected" to the Community Kitchen because it offers a "place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together".

Responding to the announcement, the Duchess' good friend Serena wrote on her Twitter account: "I used to call you Meghan (and I still do) but dear Duchess of Sussex your first project "Together" a cookbook bringing women of all cultures together. I could not be more excited about it and proud of you.

"It's beautiful - diversity, inclusivity, coming together in grief or joy."

The book - which is called Together: Our Community Cookbook - marks the former Suits actress' first solo project as a royal.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, centre front, poses for a photograph with women of the Hubb Community Kitchen. Source: Associated Press

It features 50 recipes by women whose community was affected by the fire in the Grenfell tower block in London, which killed 72 people in June last year.

The long-term ambition behind the project is to provide support for the Grenfell families and others within the community.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex cooks with women in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre. Source: Associated Press

The Duchess has played a hands-on role with the book, helping the group to find a publisher, and then providing legal support through the Royal Foundation charity.

The Royal Foundation is also responsible for ensuring that the proceeds from the sale of the book go directly to the Hubb Community Kitchen and other similar projects.

Speaking about the book, Meghan recently explained: "Through this charitable endeavour, the proceeds will allow the kitchen to thrive and keep the global spirit of community alive."

Meghan Markle and Serena Williams. Source: Associated Press


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Bert and Ernie aren't gay, Sesame Street insists as persistent puppet sexuality rumours swell again

On again off again gay rights icons Bert and Ernie aren't gay. Repeat: The famous puppets are not in a same-sex relationship.

That's the word from the producers of Sesame Street, who had to quell rumours about the duo's personal life yet again today after the theory - oft repeated over the show's nearly 50-year history -- was stoked by an interview with a former writer.

"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were (gay)," said Mark Saltzman, who wrote for the show throughout most of the 1980s, in an interview with LGBTQ website Queerty.

"I don't think I'd know how else to write them, but as a loving couple... Because how else?"

Mr Saltzman said he was inspired to write their loving interactions and minor quibbles by his own relationship.

But in a tweet this morning, Sesame Street issued a statement insisting that "they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation".

"As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," producers said. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves."

A writer previously revealed he wrote the roommates as a gay couple, but Sesame Workshop says none of the show’s puppets have a sexual orientation. Source: 1 NEWS


Day care owner accused of tying kids to car seats for up to seven hours, fastening shoe laces around their necks

The owner of an in-home day care accused of keeping infants and toddlers tied to their car seats for hours has been jailed in the United States on child endangerment charges.

An affidavit says Rebecca Anderson also yanked a six-month-old child by the bib around his neck, tied laces around the children's necks to limit their movement and gave them the painkiller acetaminophen to quiet them.

The 60-year-old is accused of having kept the small children tied up in car seats for at least seven hours a day at Becky's Home Child Care, her day care near Dallas, Texas.

When police executed a search warrant on her home, they found three children in a dark bedroom closet strapped to car seats, according to CBS 11 News in Dallas. Some of the children had to have shoelaces cut off their necks, police also said.

"It just kind of concerned me the way the kids sounded when the parents dropped them off," neighbour Susan Geldmeier told the news station, explaining that she would sometimes hear children wail when dropped off at the facility.

"It alarmed me to where I was like, 'Why are they sounding like that?'"

Anderson was booked Monday into the Dallas County jail on nine counts of child endangerment with bonds totalling NZ $68,000.

Rebecca Anderson Source: Dallas County Jail