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.


Major Pepperidge said...

Debbie sure had an incredible collection; it was sad that she had to sell it, but I am happy for her that the auction went so well.

TokyoMagic! said...

I never went to see her collection at her Las Vegas hotel during the short time that she had it. Now I wish I had!

spacepotato said...

I'm still reeling in shock over the $4.6 million paid for The Seven Year Itch Dress.

Connie Moreno said...

That was really cool! So you went to the auction?

Daveland said...

No Connie - I didn't go. Wish I had gone up to see the collection though. Too lazy to make another trip to LA!

TES Farrell said...

Dave I went to the public viewing of the items on June 10th and I was in awe. It was an amazing experience. Seeing costumes worn by Debbie Reynolds,Barbara Striesand, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Igrid Bergman, Shirley Temple Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Lucy, MArlon Brando, Cauldette Cobert and many many more. All the fine details that went into making those costumes was awesome. It was a wonderful expeience. I am so glad I went
to see it before they were auctioned off. Of course those 400 costumes made up only about 20% of Miss Reynolds collection. You can still get a glimpse of costumes from Gone With The Wind Show Boat and many other items that haven't been seen starting July 27th thru Decemeber the end of the year. The costumes will be on display at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills, CA. If you can you should go. As I believe that the next auction is scheduled for sometime in December 2011.

Daveland said...

I had no idea that there was a "part 2"; thanks for letting me know. I'm kicking myself for not going up there and catching this batch (and photographing it myself!), so glad to know there is another chance to see more historic costumes from this collection. Thanks for the tip!

TES Farrell said...

Dave, you can take photographs of the costumes and props But, NO FLASH. I took over 400 photos. The exhibit was FREE to the public. However this time the first floor is free and there is a $6 fee to view the second floor. When I went in June, my friends and I each donated $10 and beileve me it was well worth it. Miss Reynolds was there however she was busy doing interviews the day we went. You could buy programs at the Paley Center that were autographed by Miss Reynolds, they sold them for $95. I bought my program copy from PROFILES In HISTORY on their website for $40. They have a down loadable version of the book too. There will be another auction book put out for this next up and coming auction as well. I am not sure exactly when that will come out. I am fairly certain it will be some time soon. Also, they will be adding NEW COSTUMES to the exhibit each and every month all the way untill Decemeber.
In June when I went they had
11X17 or 24 inch Moniters in front of each costume with a loop to the scenes in which the costumes appeared in the movie. So you could watch the scenes from the movie, see the stars wearing the costumes and then look up and see the actual costume right in front of you. It gave me goose bumps as I knew it was a historic part of hollywood movie history I was viewing.

Anonymous said...

where I can find Chrlie Chaplien Bwoler ......?