Saturday, July 23, 2011
Screen Gem Saturdays: Debbie Reynolds Auction, Pt. 5
The final entry into my recap of the Debbie Reynolds Auction focuses on Marilyn Monroe. Without a doubt, it was Marilyn's famous subway dress from "The Seven Year Itch" that garnered the most attention from the entire proceedings. But readers will have to be patient, as I am beginning with a Lauren Bacall dress that was seen in a Marilyn Monroe movie, "How To Marry A Millionaire." Considering it wasn't worn by Marilyn herself, it is more than respectable that Ms. Bacall's wedding gown was able to fetch $8,000...especially since she ditched the groom at the altar while wearing it! Here's the description from the online catalog:
Lauren Bacall “Schatze Page” embroidered lace wedding gown from How to Marry a Millionaire. (20th Century-Fox, 1953) Embroidered ecru lace wedding gown with iridescent sequins and heavy satin lining by Travilla, worn by Lauren Bacall as “Schatze Page” in How to Marry a Millionaire. Extremely elaborate bust area underpinning and reinforced with felt breast protectors. Internal tag on zipper reads “1-27-5-7957-A705-09 LAUREN BACALL”.
"Niagara" is one of my favorite Monroe movies. She plays a character of less-than-stellar morals who meets her demise at the hands of the man she was attempting to have murdered. Oh the ironic justice of it all! This original poster commanded $2,000 at auction:
Niagara original 22” x 28” half-sheet poster for Marilyn Monroe film. (TCF, 1953) Rolled, unbacked and entirely unrestored original U.S. 22” x 28” half-sheet poster, long considered the best layout for this title due to the horizontal art of Marilyn Monroe posing atop Niagara Falls. Very Fine.
Again, proving that size matters, this smaller insert poster only brought in $1,000:
Niagara original 14” x 36” insert poster for Marilyn Monroe film. (TCF, 1953) Linen-backed Fine to Very Fine U.S. insert-sized poster depicting Marilyn Monroe four times. Appears to have had normal light folds prior to backing, and shows only modest background retouching.
For a more famous movie, the price definitely goes up, as this "Seven Year Itch" poster proves with a sale price of $7,000:
The Seven Year Itch original 14” x 36” insert poster for Marilyn Monroe film. (TCF, 1955) Linen-backed Very Fine to Near Mint U.S. insert-sized poster depicting Marilyn Monroe’s famous subway skirt-blowing scene. Appears to have had only one very light center fold prior to backing, and shows only minimal border retouching.
The one that topped them all: $4,600,000 for this iconic dress worn by Monroe in the film. The dress that supposedly caused a huge rift between Marilyn & her hubby Joe DiMaggio, who wasn't too crazy about his wife's panties being shown to all of New York City.
Marilyn Monroe “The Girl” ivory pleated “Subway” dress by Travilla, the most recognized costume in film history, from The Seven Year Itch. (TCF, 1955) Ivory rayon-acetate halter dress with pleated skirt. Handwritten label “1-27-1-8171 M. Monroe A-734-12.” Worn by Marilyn Monroe as “The Girl” in one of the most iconic images of film history in The Seven Year Itch, when she stood above the subway grate and uttered that famous line, “OOOH isn’t it delicious?” The Seven Year Itch storyline, unlike some of Monroe’s earlier films, held no promise as a costume showcase. It was not a period piece and had no dance routines. Yet this was to become the vehicle for Travilla’s most famous dress design, in bias-cut crepe with a halter top and sunburst pleats. “So I wondered what could I do with this most beautiful girl that Marilyn was to play to make her look clean, talcum-powdered, and adorable,” Travilla mused. “What would I give her to wear that would blow in the breeze and be fun and pretty? I knew there would be a wind blowing so that would require a skirt.” [Hollywood Costume Design by Travilla, Maureen Reilly]. The fabric Travilla chose was an ivory colored rayon-acetate crepe, heavy enough to flow beautifully as Marilyn walked but still light enough to blow up in an interesting way. A fabric very hard if not impossible to get now, the closest is georgette. Travilla never normally used man-made fabric but this posed a challenge with pleating as 100% natural fabric would not hold such stiff pleats, so for all his pleated creations a special fabric had to be made with just a small amount of man-made fiber in it to maintain the structure. Acquired by Debbie Reynolds directly from Twentieth Century-Fox during the “pre-sale” when she bought all of the Marilyn Monroe wardrobe from the studio prior to the auction in 1971.
Coming back down to reality...$4,000 for this poster from my VERY fave Marilyn movie, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." She and Jane Russell had unbeatable chemistry together.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes original 14” x 36” insert poster for Marilyn Monroe film. (TCF, 1953) Linen-backed Fine to Very Fine U.S. insert-sized poster depicting Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell three times each in sexy costumes. Appears to have had normal light folds prior to backing, and shows only modest background retouching.
The movie starts off with a bang, as Jane & Marilyn sing "Two Little Girls from Little Rock" in skin-tight red sparkling silk crepe.
Marilyn Monroe “Lorelei Lee” signature red-sequined “Two Little Girls from Little Rock” showgirl gown with feathered hat by Travilla for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. (TCF, 1953) This iconic costume was worn by Marilyn Monroe as “Lorelei Lee” in the number “Two Little Girls from Little Rock.” Made of a heavy silk crepe with thousands of hand-sewn sequins spiraling in every direction starting small at the top and finishing in large singular sequins around the bottom to allow them to catch the light from all angles. A deep split to high above the thigh caught by a diamond brooch added to the drama of this dress. The slightly risqué bust area once again fooled the censors by including a shear body-toned fabric from the neck right down to the waist giving the impression of nudity without showing a thing. Dress has handwritten label “1-25-1-4286 A698-67 Marilyn Monroe.” Hat has handwritten label “1-25-1-4286 A698-67 M. Monroe.” Acquired by Debbie Reynolds directly from Twentieth Century-Fox during the “pre-sale” when she bought all of the Marilyn Monroe wardrobe from the studio prior to the auction in 1971.
Towards the end of the film, Jane is forced to impersonate Marilyn in a hilarious courtroom scene. Russell does a more than admirable job of mimicking Marilyn's voice and gestures, but the statuesque brunette definitely lacked the wide-eyed innocence that Marilyn possessed. This feathered hat is part of her costume for that scene:
$4,250 was the final price.
Jane Russell “Dorothy Shaw” black hat from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. (TCF, 1953) Black felt hat with feather accent on top, the feathers have been altered. Handwritten label “1-25-1-4284 J. RUSSELL.” Worn by Jane Russell as “Dorothy Shaw” when she impersonates “Lorelei Lee” in night court in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
I have yet to see "River of No Return," but have seen this dress in a ton-o-photos that have made it one of Marilyn's more famous costumes.
The gavel came down at $510,000 on this one. From the catalog:
Marilyn Monroe “Kay Weston” gold charmeuse saloon-girl gown by Travilla for River of No Return. (TCF, 1954) Gold charmeuse gown covered with bugle beading, red fringe accents, and gold velvet train with red netting. Handwritten label “38733 Grable” and stamped “1 25 1 1748 1900.” Created by Helen Rose for Betty Grable as “Kate Farley” in the “Cuddle Up a Little Closer” number in Coney Island (TCF, 1943). Travilla added the red beading and train for Marilyn Monroe as “Kay Weston” in the final scene of the film singing “The River of No Return” in River of No Return. Acquired by Debbie Reynolds directly from Twentieth Century-Fox during the “pre-sale” when she bought all of the Marilyn Monroe wardrobe from the studio prior to the auction in 1971. Marilyn wore this dress to sing the title song in The River of No Return. The gold silk is covered in tiny gold bugle beads. Inside is yards and yards of red tulle edged in gold and sewn into layers. At the back, fabrics of pale gold velvet and a stiff lame' are pulled and pleated together to make a rough bustle, both fabrics falling into a train. The dress is trimmed in swirled patterns of red beaded tassels attached to netting then sewn onto the dress. The left shoulder has handmade silk flowers.
Mariyn's career was on the way up when she played this supporting role in the Ethel Merman movie, "There's No Business Like Show Business." Although somewhat enjoyable, it really is very predictable and even somewhat bland. Still, that didn't prevent the poster from bringing in $4,000.
There’s No Business Like Show Business original U.S. three-sheet poster. (TCF, 1954) Linen-backed original 41” x 79” U.S. three-sheet poster for Marilyn Monroe musical. Fine with a minimum of retouching, and a bend in the upper left corner leaving a crack in the background paper.
Marilyn burns up the screen wearing this tropical outfit while singing "Heat Wave." $500,000 for this one.
Marilyn Monroe “Vicky” tropical print pink, black and white skirt, black halter top and hat from “Heat Wave” number by Travilla for There’s No Business Like Show Business. (TCF, 1954) The design started with a hat. A skull cap in black with a huge plated straw hat, the ends left raw to give the hat movement, and silk flowers attached. It was only after the hat was completed that Travilla took it to another level and added the flowers that hung around her face. The top is a sheath of black raw silk, tied in the middle by a vivid pink and black chiffon scarf that crosses the chest and drapes down the back and large black sequins attached. Handwritten label “1-25-1-4693 A729-48 M. Monroe.” The skirt starts with an extremely tight band of black raw silk that gathers around the bottom at the back and pulls round to the front in a deep sexy “V” with black sequins sewn to it; the undergarment is attached to this. From the front “V” travelling round to below her bottom is a voluminous skirt of hand printed white raw silk with huge black flowers. Attached to these flowers are hundreds of large sequins scattered randomly. The interior of the skirt is the same fabric as the scarf, a plain pink chiffon. Gathered and attached in many layers travelling from top to bottom. These layers also have hundreds of scattered sequins but this time in opaque. Handwritten label “1-25-1-4693 A729-48 M. Monroe.” Acquired by Debbie Reynolds directly from Twentieth Century-Fox during the “pre-sale” when she bought all of the Marilyn Monroe wardrobe from the studio prior to the auction in 1971.
This rare wardrobe test transparency of Marilyn wearing the Heat Wave outfit brought in $2,500:
(20th Century-Fox, 1954) Without question the sexiest and most production-code challenging musical number from any of Marilyn Monroe’s films is the one represented by this revealing tropical costume, that of “Heat Wave” in There’s No Business Like Show Business. Though black and white costume continuity photos are rare enough in their own right, original surviving Kodachromes for the Technicolor films are exceedingly scarce, and this one illustrates one of the most iconic and exceptional costumes in screen history. The actual costume in this shot, screen-worn by Marilyn, will be offered separately by us in the Debbie Reynolds costume sale.
Apparently there is more of Reynolds' collection to be seen at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. This time, I hope to make it up there myself to shoot some photos! To see more classic Hollywood photos, visit my regular website.