As a kid, each year on Thanksgiving night, Joseph Maddalena and also his family members gathered roughly the TV collection in Cranston, R.I., to clock The magician of Oz. He was entranced through Dorothy and also her ruby slippers, the yellow brick road, the Cowardly Lion, the tin Man and also even the Munchkins, but there was one prop indigenous the 1939 movie that organized him under the deepest spell: the broomstick the the angry Witch.

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"To me the broomstick was the main plot device and the coolest point in the movie," the says.

It ended up being a holy grail.


Today Maddalena, 47, owns Profiles in History, a Los Angeles dealer in historic documents and also movie memorabilia. He has actually bought and also sold part impressive historical documents, including two letter from Abraham Lincoln (from the Malcolm snucongo.org collection) the went for $660,000 each. But in the last decade the company"s organization has moved much more in the direction of Hollywood keepsakes. He offered Luke Skywalker"s irradiate saber indigenous Star battles for $200,000.

He began young. At 12 Maddalena rented the end an American Legion post with $25 he"d make from his document route and put on a baseball map memorabilia show. By 14, he had actually amassed a arsenal of more than 1 million baseball cards and also autographs. While quiet a teenager he started corresponding v members that the Oz cast, hope to home in ~ above props.

After he relocated to California in the late 1970s to attend Pepperdine University, the befriended Jack Haley (the tin Man) and also Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow). Haley"s costume, he learned, had been shed or destroyed, Bolger"s donated to the Smithsonian.

His research study unearthed the witch"s hourglass, i beg your pardon Maddalena acquired and sold in 1998 for $325,000, and two of the witch"s hats, i beg your pardon went because that $58,000 and also $77,000.

Still, the broomstick eluded him.

"Most that the time, over the years, her leads get much better and better," he says. However not in this case. Even though close inspection of the MGM film argues that 3 broomsticks were provided in the shooting, Maddalena can not find proof that any kind of had survived. "But I simply knew it had to be out there, somewhere."


Enter Michael Shaw, a 72-year-old exhilaration coach in Los Angeles who had been a child actor in ~ MGM. In the people of Oz memorabilia, shaw is ideal known for having owned one of the four existing pairs of Dorothy"s ruby slippers. Rhys Thomas, writer of The Ruby Slippers that Oz, one exposé the the Hollywood memorabilia industry, says Shaw"s pair to be of higher quality than the pair that now resides in the Smithsonian.

In 2005 shaw lent his slippers to the Judy Garland Museum in grand Rapids, Minn. They to be stolen a week later. No one has ever been charged, and the slippers remain at large. Shaw cases he received $1 million in insurance money.

"I"m therefore furious the the slippers are gone," that says. "It"s really frustrating that they haven"t caught that obsessed, fanatic, selfish bastard that stole them." He to be left with some other Oz memorabilia that he had bought in the 1970s, displaying the arsenal in his home, 10 miles far from Maddalena"s.

Maddalena had actually known the Shaw because that 30 years and had aided appraise Shaw"s slippers as soon as they were stolen. It never developed to him to ask about the broomstick. Then, in August, file in background received a phone call. It was from Shaw. He to be interested in marketing some that his non-Oz movie stuff. Maddalena sent out his procurement expert, Brian Chanes, come Shaw"s house. Chanes observed something out of the corner of his eye. Leaning top top a wall surface was a broomstick nearly 6 feet long.

"I said, "Oh my God, is the what i think that is?"" says Chanes, mindful of his boss" obsession. "The very first thing Michael stated was, "Yes." The 2nd thing he stated was, "It"s no for sale."" Shaw, the learned, had painstakingly refinished the broomstick and replaced lacking bristles. "I said Michael that this is other I"ve been looking for forever. Ns made it clear that if he ever wanted to market it, I"d it is in there," states Maddalena.

Says Shaw: "He"s more than welcome to check out it anytime he wants. However I will not be selling it." What"s it worth? conveniently $200,000, thinks Maddalena--if it"s legit. Shaw now says the after some reflection, he"s no absolutely sure it is. Other Oz experts additionally have doubts. "I"m skeptical," states Rhys Thomas. "There"s no proof the it exists."

Thomas to trust it"s most likely that MGM reused the broomstick in a later on movie. Glen Brown, an MBM archivist, says: "I often tend to think it could not it is in the yes, really broom."

Both Brown and also Thomas speak the only way to authenticate it would certainly be to very closely match it come still pictures from the film. Neither has seen Shaw"s broomstick.

Maddalena"s confidence remains unwavering: "I"m certain it"s real."

He calls show periodically. "Every time," that says, "the an initial thing Michael says is: "I"m not offering it, Joseph.""

How walk Maddalena feeling to it is in so nearby to--yet quiet so far from--the fulfillment of his dream?

"I feeling confident that at some point Michael will certainly pick increase the phone and also say "It"s time; come and also get it,"" the says.

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Maybe that could shot clicking his heels together 3 times.


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I to be the author of the brand-new York times bestseller, “Saban: The do of a Coach," a story of Alabama head coach, Nick Saban. I"m also the writer of “4TH and Goal: One Man’s pursuit to Recapture His Dream," which winner an Axiom Award, and “Sowbelly: The Obsessive pursuit for the civilization Record Largemouth Bass," i m sorry was named one the the ideal books of the year by sporting activities Illustrated and Amazon, and was chosen for Barnes & Noble"s "Discover an excellent New Writers" program. My latest publication is "Lords the the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and also the Hunt for the human being Record Tarpon." ~ a 14-year stint together a reporter, employee writer and also editor in ~ snucongo.org, ns am now a contributing editor at the magazine. I"m also a contributing editor in ~ Garden & Gun and also The Drake. You can reach me in ~ monteburke13