Classic Movie Props That Were Tossed in the Trash

In the early days of Hollywood, it was impossible to predict that there would be any financial or historical reason for saving movie props. Later, when collectors began to show interest and film conservationists implored filmmakers to hold on to materials, studios found it too expensive to try and keep set decorations in storage. If the memorabilia somehow found its way out in to the world, its owners had little idea of the cinematic history they held in their hands. Below are some of the iconic props that wound up in a dumpster.


The Goonies — Treasure Map
When Sean Astin was 18, he left a number of personal possessions behind in the house owned by his mother, actress Patty Duke. One of them was the treasure map from the 1985 film The Goonies. When he returned, many of the items — including the map — were no longer there. “It’s an item that would probably be worth like $100,000 now,” he said, “and I think my mom threw it out.”

The Wizard of Oz — Ruby Slippers
Dorothy’s ruby slippers have experienced enough theft, misplacement, and intrigue to fill a movie, and MGM hasn’t had much luck with the rest of the props from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. One of the matte paintings used to depict Emerald City was tossed out after the studio hired a salvage company to clear out their back lot in the 1970s. Fortunately, one of the garbage men realized the painting might have been valuable. The business held on to it until the piece entered the auction circuit in 1980, where they netted $44,000 for their conservation efforts.

Gone With the Wind - Scarlett O’Hara’s Dress
Beginning in the 1960s, Universal Studios employee James Tumblin began compiling props and costumes from Gone with the Wind. By chance, he visited the Western Costume Company and noticed that one of Vivien Leigh’s screen-used dresses was in a pile on the floor. Recognizing it immediately, Tumblin asked about it; he was told it was being thrown away. Aghast, he offered the owners $20. In 2015, Tumblin sold it at auction for $137,000.

A Christmas Story - The Leg Lamp
Ralphie’s father had questionable taste in home decor, but that hasn’t stopped fans of the holiday classic from buying replica lamps shaped like a seductive female leg. Unfortunately, getting the real thing is impossible: According to Peter Jones, who operates a tourist business out of the house used in the film, all of the leg lamps were discarded by the 1990s.