Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Temple Tuesday: Just the facts, ma'am!

Today's Temple Tuesday post is an update of what has happened to the remaining "lost" vintage Shirley Temple movie costumes since I last wrote about them. There are still three items floating around in parts unknown to their true owner. The passionate folks behind Shirley's Army (a group of dedicated Shirley Temple fans with Melissa Tonnessen at the helm) helped compile this list of dates and info detailing all that has occurred. It reads like a very unfortunate episode of "Dragnet."

Much of the information will make you cringe, as this comedy of errors (that unfortunately has yet to produce a laugh) unfolds before your eyes.

Love, Shirley Temple Auction by Theriault's in Kansas City July 14, 2015
Shirley Temple aficionado Tonya Bervaldi-Camaratta buys the "Bright Eyes" aviator costume (with 2 caps), "The Little Princess" gown (with cape), and the "Wee Willie Winkie" traveling outfit. Tonya eventually goes on to acquire other Shirley Temple costumes, including a yellow dress from "Stowaway" (1936) and a coat from "Little Miss Broadway" (1938). She pledges to loan these precious pieces of film history for public display to organizations and museums so that the Shirley Temple legacy can continue.

Flash forward to Summer 2017
Tonya loans her costumes to upscale doll craftsman R. John Wright's Hollywood-themed Albany Doll Convention. She hand-delivers some pieces by car, including a fragile outfit from "The Little Colonel" (1935).

August 28, 2017
Four distinctive green boxes are taken by Tonya to a UPS shipping facility in Gainesville, Florida. Tonya calls the folks at RJW (R. John Wright) and tells them when to expect the four boxes. When Wright receives the shipment, they confirm with Tonya that all has arrived. Unfortunately, they didn't bother to count the number of boxes and failed to realize that one was missing.

September 6, 2017
The people at RJW proceed to open the three boxes they received for the first time and realize things are missing. They call Tonya and it becomes clear that the box containing the white and gold satin gown from "The Little Princess" (1939) and two Aviator Caps from "Bright Eyes" (1934) never arrived in Vermont.

Tonya promptly calls UPS and they tell her that they will begin their search for the missing box.

September 7-9, 2017
The RJW Convention proceeds as if nothing is amiss. Shirley Army members are the only attendees who know that five additional Shirley Temple movie costume pieces are not there on display.

September 14, 2017
In what might seem like unrelated news...on September 14, online auction house Cargo Largo conducts an auction of 5000 unclaimed UPS boxes. Bidders write their best bid on a box and are notified the following day if they won. A lady from Kansas City bids on some vintage children's costumes that are in very good shape. She picks up her winnings the very next day from Cargo Largo. In case you haven't done the math, this means UPS turned Tonya's merchandise over to Cargo Largo as unclaimed goods only 17 days after she shipped them. You might want to think twice before shipping anything of value with UPS.

September 15, 2017
According to this woman's story, on the way home, she tosses the brown aviator cap from her winning stash into a box and leaves it outside an orange Kansas City Donations clothing donation bin (labeled as benefiting the "Ozanam" organization), which is located in front of El Maguye Mexican Restaurant at 3738 S. Noland Rd., Independence Missouri. Once home, our Kansas City Gal notes the 20th Century Fox wardrobe label with "Temple" hand written inside the collar of one of the dresses and does some online research. She finds information on the Theriault's Auction where Tonya bought the costumes and realizes what she has and now knows the aviator cap is part of a costume. She returns to the donation bin, but the box she left beside it and the brown leather aviator cap that was inside that box are gone. She emails Theriault's Auction House via their website's "Contact Us" form.

September 16, 2017
At 8:02 am Theriault's emails her back and asks her to send photos of the costumes, which KC Gal does. These photos reveal four of the five missing costumes: the "Bright Eyes" aviator outfit (minus the 2 caps), the "Wee Willie Winkie" dress and jacket, the yellow "Stowaway" dress, and the "Little Miss Broadway" coat.

Meanwhile, still no good news from UPS for Tonya, and she makes the heartbreaking announcement to a select few in Shirley's Army that a box went missing. Tonya continues to follow up with UPS to no avail. All they can tell her is that the box was scanned in Gainesville and again in Orlando (onto a truck, off a truck, but not scanned into the warehouse) and never scanned again. Nature steps in with hurricane season and throws yet another unfortunate curveball into the mix, as packages begin to pile up from the chaos in Florida. UPS tells Tonya to wait one more week due to the hurricanes. A UPS investigator tells Tonya he will contact Orlando and get back to her on September 27. He never calls Tonya back. When Tonya calls him back, he tells her he never did contact Orlando for her. UPS tells her they are closing her case.

September 20, 2017
Tonya announces to all Shirley's Army members that UPS has closed her case. Members discuss options and actions to take. Don't mess with Shirley fans; it's not worth it! Melissa Tonnessen (aka The Colonel, pictured below at right with entertainment reporter Amanda Champagne on the left and Shirley's son, Charles Black Jr.) "tags" Stuart Holbrook (the auctioneer at Theriault's who originally auctioned off the costumes back in 2015) on Facebook to alert him. Stuart responds a few hours later from Germany, posting that he is sorry this happened. He advises Tonya to be "relentless" in her pursuit with UPS. Stuart contacts the auction house co-owner back in the U.S. about general business related things and asks if she has heard anything about the costumes. She tells him she received an email through Theriault's web "Contact Us" form five days earlier from a woman who said she had four of the five costumes and was interested in selling them. Tonya is consulted and tells UPS this additional news.

September 21, 2017
Theriault's calls Kansas City Gal. While not accusing her of any wrongdoing, Theriault's lets KC Gal know that the costumes were improperly sold to her and that they were probably stolen. In this same conversation KC gal refuses to reveal where she obtained the costumes. Theriault's offers to reimburse KC Gal the amount she paid to have them returned to Tonya. It is at this point that KC Gal reveals what she did with the brown aviator cap. She claimed she never saw or had the gray Aviator Cap or "The Little Princess" satin gown. Negotiations fail. KC Gal now knows the true value of what she has bought and refuses to relinquish ownership. The dirty rat.

Tonya announces to Shirley's Army that she now knows who has four costumes. She is still hoping to personally negotiate their return, with some help from UPS. The Army gets to work on recovering "The Little Princess" satin gown and two Aviator caps, as KC Gal continues to claim she never had them.

September 22, 2017
Carolyn Mani at Heritage Auctions is called by Gayle Share and generously agrees to spread the word through her company and throughout the entertainment memorabilia auction world, so that KC Gal will be stopped from selling. Carolyn's email is forwarded to Woolsey Ackerman, a member of Shirley's Army who works with auction houses within 2 hours of the request having been made, so we know the word has quickly spread. Forget "Mommie Dearest"; don't #$%^ with Shirley's Army!

September 23, 2017
Tonya is worried that KC Gal will destroy the costumes now that she won't be able to sell them for money, so Tonya drafts an email asking her to reconsider, letting her know that UPS should "make things right" with her. Tonya receives her response...AFTER the buyer sees the KSHB-TV 41 6pm news report on September 25 detailing the lost Shirley Temple costumes. I will deviate from giving "just the facts, ma'am" and say that KC Gal's actions up to this point do not show her to be a very stand-up Gal.

UPS sends police to KC Gal's house for proof that she owns the costumes and she produces her Cargo Largo receipt, so the police can do nothing. Hard to believe.

September 24, 2017
Shirley's Army, fearing KC Gal might still try to sell the costumes, mobilizes to spread the word to thrift shops and vintage/antique shops in Kansas City. There is a thorough search of online sales sites such as eBay, Craigslist, etc. The amount of tweeting, emailing, Facebook alerts, and calls to media outlets that Shirley's Army accomplishes in a short time would make your eyes cross. In brainstorming about how to get the word out, Woolsey suggests contacting the news outlets that profiled the Kansas City auction in 2015.

Meanwhile, Tonya contacts UPS Customer Relations and speaks to Mike O'Connor, who says he will look into things and reopen the case. He asks Tonya not to put anything else on social media for a day until she hears from him within 24 hours. Tonya reports this to the Army late that evening. Can you guess who doesn't call back as promised? Tonya makes the call instead and is "less impressed" about his willingness to help than she was the night before, so she decides to go public again. As luck would have it, she gets contacted by The Kansas City Star who ends up breaking the story. Cat Reid from KSHB-TV 41 contacts Melissa (The Colonel!) and Melissa puts her in touch with Tonya who is quickly interviewed for the 6pm newscast. Due to the avalanche of publicity, KC Gal realizes she will be unable to sell the costumes for the major profit she had expected and contacts Tonya. During a three-way phone conversation (including her attorney), Tonya pleads for the costumes' return and tells KC Gal that UPS will pay a reward/ransom. KC Gal agrees and also gives Tonya more information regarding the Cargo Largo process and that she (allegedly) never saw "The Little Princess" satin gown or gray "Bright Eyes" aviator cap.

September 26, 2017
UPS picks up the four costumes and pays off KC Gal with the "reward" money. What does Tonya get for her trouble? A bouquet of flowers from UPS. You have got to be kidding, right? UPS should be kissing Tonya's feet at this point for their bungling ineptitude. How did these costumes become part of an auction at Cargo Largo in the first place?!?

September 27, 2017
The four costumes (see photo below) are delivered by UPS to Tonya, mercifully in the same condition in which they left. KC Gal emails Tonya the exact location of the donation bin where she left the brown aviator cap, where a Shirley's Army member promptly places a reward poster.

September 29, 2017
Tonya's interview with Gainesville WCJV-TV 20 is on both the 5 and 6 news reports:

October 12, 2017
Closer Magazine publishes a story on the still missing "Little Princess" costume.

Today, Tonya was notified that UPS has officially closed the case. Most likely legal action will follow, but of the utmost importance to Tonya is the return of the still missing items. Somehow, Tonya continues to be upbeat and cheery through all of this, summoning the ghost of Shirley Temple herself. PLEASE spread the word and help Tonya get her costumes back so that they can be shared with the public again for many years to come.

More Shirley Temple at my main website.


Fifthrider said...

Words,... Just... Wow....

Unknown said...

Excellent reporting, Dave!

Leslie H. Tannenbaum said...

Great information here, David! Now all we need is a "Happy Ending," to this "Never Ending Story!" Fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

This is the run down story which needs to be published in a national format. Excellent work.

Jim said...

Glad to hear Tonya got four of the five costumes back.

I will try to pass the word around as well.