Sunday, June 19, 2011

Movie Magic: Debbie Reynolds Auction

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while would know that I'm a big fan of old movies. My interest has its genesis in my childhood, as my Aussie grandparents were both big movie buffs, loved 'their' Golden Years of Hollywood, and as a result had amassed a big collection of classics on VHS. Every school holidays - when I wasn't coming up with elaborate games set in the 'olden days' with my cousins, or playing down at the beach - I was watching movies. Some of my favourites were Little Women (with Janet Leigh & Elizabeth Taylor), Pride & Prejudice (with Greer Garson), Gaslight, High Society, Intermezzo, Rebecca, Casablanca, My Fair Lady, anything starring Shirley Temple or directed by Alfred Hitchcock (except Psycho or The Birds ... too scary) and, of course, The Sound of Music and Gone with the Wind.
My Nanny was obsessed with Shirley Temple as a child in the 30s and kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about her. She's also had a lifelong crush on the young Laurence Olivier. My Grandfather has always fancied 1940s songstress Deanna Durbin, who has somewhat faded into obscurity now. I, however, watched an awful lot of her movies when I was young.
So, when I found out that Debbie Reynolds was auctioning off her UNBELIEVABLE collection of movie memorabilia, I had to take a look at the catalogue. The breadth of it filled me with wonderment and sadness. Wonderment at the quality and fame of the items (it is wonderful to see some of the costumes in colour for the first time) and sadness that such an important collection is being broken up. Apparently Debbie intended the collection for a museum, but the project got into financial difficulty, and so she's had to auction off the items to appease creditors.
Here are a few of the costumes included ...

Other costumes include that white Travilla dress that Marilyn wore in The Seven Year Itch as well as the red sequin dress she wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Dorothy's ruby red slippers.

And it wasn't just costumes up for grabs; there was movie posters, stills, props, scripts & contracts, paintings & illustrations, and even cars. You can tell that Debbie was someone that really loved her industry.

The first part of the auction happened yesterday and the Cecil Beaton designer Ascot dress from My Fair Lady fetched a staggering US$ 3.7 million. Judy Garland's Dorothy dress and red slippers were worth US$ 1.7 million and, wait for it, Marilyn's iconic white dress was snapped up for a cool US$ 4.6 million.

When I saw Andrew O'Hagan speak a few months ago, he thought that Marilyn Monroe has now superseded Joan of Arc as the most famous woman in the world. This latest auction result goes some way to proving his theory. Discuss?

PS Speaking of old movies, I recently watch The Best Years of Our Lives for the first time, and highly recommend it. A brilliant film, in any decade, it also stars my Mum and my current retro crush, Dana Andrews. He is also very sexy in Laura. Check him out.


Anonymous said...

I know that Debbie Reynolds made 18.6 million on her first auction but I am curious as to how much she spent for the auction items. Have you found out?

Louise said...

I wondered that myself. She must have made a big investment over her lifetime. Perhaps, like most true collectors, she's too embarrassed to say what it all cost.