Saturday, June 25, 2011
Screen Gem Saturdays: The Debbie Reynolds Auction, Pt. 1
Recently, Debbie Reynolds sold off her collection of Hollywood costumes and memorabilia in a huge blow-out auction that caused jaws to drop for two reasons: the historic significance of what she owned, and the prices that were paid for those items. For the next few weeks, I will feature some of the amazing pieces that were part of this auction.
How much would you pay for a crazy blond wig and a top hat? Probably not much. If the wig and hat belonged to legendary comedian Harpo Marx, then the value goes up exponentially, as in $45,000. Here's the description from the catalog:
Harpo Marx signature historic vintage top hat and wig acquired directly from him. Vintage ca. 1930’s collapsible pop-open fur and felt top hat (quite fragile, but intact) with internal attached blond wig, which was acquired directly from Harpo Marx, and worn by him in numerous on-screen Marx brothers film appearances. Gifted by Harpo Marx to Debbie Reynolds.
Here's a photo of Harpo himself, my very fave Marx Brother:
If you couldn't win Harpo's hat, then Charlie Chaplin's derby might have been another option for you—as long as you have a spare $110,000. Yes, that's right folks. It's amazing what a little head sweat from a star on an old black derby can do for the value!
From the catalog:
Charlie Chaplin signature bowler hat from numerous productions as “The Tramp” character. Signature black felt bowler hat with “London Best Custom Made” label. Gifted by Charlie Chaplin to the Hollywood Heritage Museum and acquired by Robert Nudelman for Debbie Reynolds’ collection.
Charlie can be seen resting between takes on the right side of this vintage photo:
Much of Reynolds' collection was acquired during the famous MGM auction of 1970; however, there were quite a few pieces from other studios, including this 20th Century Fox Shirley Temple "The Littlest Rebel" (1935) dress.
Shirley Temple “Virginia Cary” green plaid period dress with jacket from The Littlest Rebel. (TCF, 1935) Green plaid period dress with matching jacket. The dress has handwritten “Shirley” and stamped 5”130 2 27 7 3904.” Jacket has no label. Worn by Shirley Temple as “Virgie” singing “Polly Wolly Doodle,” visiting her father in jail, tap dancing on the sidewalk, and visiting the President at end of film in The Littlest Rebel.
Besides this scene with Bill Robinson, Shirley can be seen wearing this dress when she sits on the lap of President Abraham Lincoln. And yet, the dress sold for a mere $35,000. I guess people are more into stinky old hats and wigs than Shirley's Presidential outfit!
If these items seem a little low-brow to you, perhaps you'd care to acquire some paintings owned by William Randolph Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies.
Marion Davies monumental oil painting by Federico Beltran Masses from Davies’ estate. Oil painting of Marion Davies by Federico Beltran Masses (1885-1949) depicting various images of Davies measuring 6’ 4” long x 4’ 8” high x 2” deep. Special shipping arrangements will apply.
Shirley shouldn't feel so bad; Marion's painting went for a paltry $10,000. So much for art!
These two went for a bit more; $11,000 for this one:
Marion Davies oil painting. Large oil painting of Marion Davies in stripped pants and black jacket housed in a gold frame. Measures 81” x 41”. 3” tear on bottom left. Commissioned by Marion Davies and hung in her home. Special shipping arrangements will apply.
And $17k for this one:
Marion Davies oil painting. Large oil painting of Marion Davies in a floral vest housed in a gold frame. Measures 81” x 41”. Large amount of cracking and paint missing. Commissioned by Marion Davies and hung in her home. Special shipping arrangements will apply.
More to come! To see more classic Hollywood photos, visit my regular website.