Category: Movies


Debbie Reynolds, film star and mother to Princess Leia’s Carrie Fisher, spent the past 50 years acquiring what Hollywood was throwing out.  On June 18, 2008, she sold off the crown jewels of her collection, and the dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in Seven Year Itch broke an entertainment memorabilia auction record, selling for a whopping $5,658,000.  Movie memorabilia auction house Profiles in History will be auctioning off more costumes, props, filmmaker tools and other items from Reynolds collection on December 3, 2011, at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.

Reynolds had been collecting costumes and props since 1970 when Warner Brothers started selling off key pieces of Hollywood history.  Reynolds financed her purchases over the years with the plan of building a museum for the public.  But last year her business filed for bankruptcy protection and her holdings, including probably the best Hollywood costume collection of all time, had to be sold off to pay off creditors.

Next week’s auction has a broad array of items.  Again, mostly costumes from A-list and B-list actors and actresses, but this time mainly from less recognizable films of Hollywood’s golden age.  No doubt for sci-fi fans the key lot being sold is George Lucas’s Panavision PSR 35 mm motion picture camera used to film Star Wars.  It has an auction estimate of $100,000 to $200,000.

Also for sale is a Panavision Mitchell 65mm AC Rack-Over camera used to film Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey estimated to sell for $30,000 to $50,000, an RKO camera crane used by Orson Welles to film Citizen Kane expected to fetch between $30,000 to $50,000, and a Bell & Howell Model 2709 hand-cranked 35mm camera , once owned by Charlie Chaplin and used to film The Kid and Gold Rush, expected to sell for $200,000 to $300,000.

No doubt the highlights of the auction in the costume department will be more Marilyn Monroe screen-used costumes, including outfits worn in Bust Stop, Let’s Make Love, Niagara, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  Other actress costumes featured were worn by Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Betty Grable, Deborah Kerr, Mitzi Gaynor, Susan Hayward, Teresa Wright, Ginger Rogers, Virginia Mayo, Kim Novak, Katherine Hepburn, Jennifer Jones, Claudette Colbert, and Ava Gardner.  There is also a variety of classic Mary Pickford and Leslie Howard costumes, all available for previewing between now and December 3, 2011 at the Paley Center.

Key classic Hollywood films represented in the auction include She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Show Boat, an Al Jolson costume from Swanee River, a costume from The Little Princess worn by Arthur Treacher, Yankee Doodle Dandee, Without Reservations, The Three Musketeers, Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Stars and Stripes Forever.

A full suit of armor worn by Jean Seberg as Joan of Arc in Otto Preminger’s film Saint Joan is estimated to sell between $15,000 to $20,000.

For more articles on the first Debbie Reynolds auction click here.  For more articles on Profiles in History click here.

More information is available at www.profilesinhistory.com. Happy bidding, movie fans!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

A familiar group in the original costume and prop collecting arena attended Comic-Con again this year.  We ran into Jon Mankuta and Brian Chanes from Profiles in History on the convention floor Friday.  They also create the SyFy network show Hollywood Treasure, a show I regularly watch to see both the discoveries they find, the collectors of Hollywood memorabilia (like a guy that looks like Santa Claus who has a house full of rare costumes from movies like Elf and A Christmas Story), and, of course, the costumes and props themselves. 

Jon Mankuta from the auction house and TV show eyed our Alien Nation latex heads from across the main walkway in the heart of the convention floor and had a guy in the crowd snap this shot. 

 

Jon is one of those guys that when you see him you have this feeling like you’ve known him for years.   He was having fun at the Con like every other fanboy in the crowd, checking out the booths and sporting a Lost T-shirt.  Jon actually played one of The Others in the Lost TV series and among other acting gigs he performed in sketches during the 2002-2006 years of Saturday Night Live.  It was great meeting someone working at an auction house who gets as excited seeing artifacts from movies just as much as the rest of us.  Coincidentally, later in the day Brian Chanes grabbed us in the crowd for a similar photo.  Later in the weekend we met up with Brian again (below right) and Profiles president Joe Maddalena (below left): 

Profiles is a great resource for screen-used props and costumes of every price range–Profiles is the auction house we featured in earlier posts that sold that record breaking Marilyn Monroe dress from Seven Year Itch, among other pieces in the Debbie Reynolds Collection.  I have also had the pleasure of working with Fong Sam at the auction house, a great guy who coordinates prop and costume auctions and takes phone bids on auction day. 

In past years at Comic-Con, Profiles in History had featured an advance look at props from various movies and TV series that were to be featured in upcoming auctions.  This year they linked up with Desi DosSantos from Screenused.com who has a nice collection of Back to the Future costumes and props.  His crown jewel is one of the DeLorean Time Machine cars from the series (from the third movie in the franchise).   Profiles in History and Desi worked with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (TEAMFOX.org) this year to take photos of convention-goers sitting in the car for a $20 donation, raising more than $11,000 for the charity.  Nice job!  And if you missed seeing the Time Machine car at Comic-Con, the San Diego Air and Space Museum will have it on display through August 13, 2011.

Strangely enough, the Profiles in History booth did not have the only Back to the Future car at Comic-Con.  On the other side of the convention center a replica Time Machine was on display (a DeLorean updated with replica movie parts under the direction of the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis), creating a sort of deja vu for the crowd.  (The replica is pictured at the top of this post).

And if you need your own Back to the Future Time Machine DeLorean, keep an eye out for the December Profiles in History auction where the real car from the Profiles booth will be auctioned, along with part 2 of the Debbie Reynolds auction.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Debbie Reynolds, film star and the real mother to Princess Leia’s Carrie Fisher, spent the past 50 years acquiring what Hollywood was throwing out.  Until fairly recently, Hollywood production companies viewed props and costumes as trash to throw out after production wrapped, or at best, something to store in giant warehouses for later productions.  But Reynolds had a vision and was in the right place at the right time over and over again.  She managed to amass what must be the single greatest collection of Hollywood costumes from the classic era.  She began her obsession with the 1970 MGM auction of its costume warehouses when she maxed out her finances to acquire stunning one-of-a-kind pieces by Hollywood’s greatest designers, costumes she couldn’t bear the thought of not landing in a museum.  Current studios know the value of props and costumes, but back even into the 1970s, not so much.  That said, she spent a great deal of money over the years putting a museum worthy assemblage together.  And that was the problem.

Unfortunately, her vision ends today as her business efforts to make the museum failed, and the result was a bankrupt project and the need to sell the collection to pay off creditors.  Tomorrow, June 18, 2011, key pieces of the collection will be sold off by auction house Profiles in History in Beverly Hills at the Paley Center for Media, where you could see a preview today of the costumes and props to be sold.  There’s good and bad to this.  For one, her collection had not been on display for years, most items boxed up on her ranch, in rail cars, in out buildings, in vaults.  So if you follow the philosophy that costumes first and foremost should be displayed, then getting into private hands may be the answer.  Personally I think preservation is paramount.  And what Reynolds did was keep everything in incredible shape.  No doubt the high-end buyers of these expensive works of art will do the same.  It will be an exciting opportunity for high-end buyers as most of the items are expected to fetch in excess of $10,000.  Reynolds has previewed her collection on both Oprah Winfrey’s show weeks ago and this week on SyFy Network’s “Hollywood Treasures.”

And I’m not kidding when I say this will be no regular TV and film prop and costume sale.  I think the word “iconic” is overused.  But today I’ll call out this sale as the exception.  Here is just a short list of what is being sold starting with some great fantasy genre pieces (several other items from her collection will be sold off later this year, too):

Judy Garland’s early production ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.  Estimated at $120-150,000.

Judy Garland’s early production dress from The Wizard of Oz.  Estimated at $60-80,000.

Edmund Gwenn’s Kris Kringle Santa suit from Miracle on 34th Street.  Estimated at $20-30,000.

Ape, gorilla and orangutan costumes from Planet of the Apes, as well as flight suit and Heston costume.

Sean Connery costume from the Highlander films.  Estimated at $12-15,000. 

And the really big stuff:

Marilyn Monroe white subway-blowin’ dress (yep, that one) from Seven Year Itch.  Estimated at (gulp) $1-2 million.

Marilyn Monroe’s red sequined dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  Estimated at $200-300,000.

Audrey Hepburn’s classic white dress from My Fair Lady.  Estimated at $200-300,000.

Julie Andrews’s key mountain singing dress from The Sound of Music.  Estimated at $40-60,000.

Charleton Heston’s costume from Ben Hur.  Estimated at $20-30,000.

Gary Cooper’s uniform from Sergeant York.  Estimated at $20-30,000. 

Jimmy Stewart’s leather costume from How the West was Won.  Estimated at $8-12,000.

A huge collection of Elizabeth Taylor costumes, including National Velvet (Estimated at $10-15,000), and her Cleopatra headpiece, estimated at $30-50,000.

Charlie Chaplin’s hat from The Tramp.  Estimated at $20-30,000.

Laurel and Hardy’s signature costumes.  Estimated at $15-20,000.

Harpo Marx’s wig and hat.  Estimated at $20-30,000.

Gene Kelly’s outfit from Singin’ in the Rain.  Estimated at $12-15,000.

Rex Harrison’s outfit and doctor bag from Doctor Doolittle.  Estimated at $12-15,000.

Grace Kelly’s costume (seen below) from Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.  Estimated at $30-50,000.

Claude Rains’s uniform as Capt. Renault from Casablanca.  $12-15,000.

Robert Redford and Katherine Ross costumes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  You’ll also find key costumes from Katherine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, W.C. Fields, Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, Mae West, Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone, Al Jolson, Spencer Tracy, Lawrence Olivier, James Cagney, John Wayne, Orson Welles, Ingrid Bergman, Frank Sinatra, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Betty Grable, Vincent Price, Natalie Wood, Errol Flynn, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Ginger Rogers, Glenn Ford, Peter Ustinov, Jimmy Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Jean Simmons, Deborah Kerr, Marlon Brando, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Yul Brynner, Shirley Jones, Kim Novak, Dean Martin, Gregory Peck, and even Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, and Mike Myers.

More information is available at www.profilesinhistory.com.  Happy bidding, movie fans!

By C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Cross-promotional marketing is nothing new, whether it’s a tie-in of Coca-Cola and Sony, Pepsi and Michael Jackson’s tour, or a national baseball team and the city’s grocery store chain, we are bombarded everywhere we go with not only that special product we didn’t know we needed, but also that seemingly unrelated product that some marketing whiz decided we also need.

Back in the late 1970s and 1980s it seemed like there was a constant battle for the best tie-in promotion between McDonald’s and Burger King.  For a while, the Star Wars franchise was tied into Burger King, introducing a giant size sticker folder, numerous trading cards (you’d need to cut out yourself), and probably the best drinking glasses anyone ever stamped a movie image on, for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi

And they were made from actual glass no less.  They even brought the glass concept back in 2009 with the new Star Trek movie.

E.T. the Extraterrestrial (which also had glasses as giveaways at Pizza Hut) made waves by altering its own original story and tying Reese’s Pieces into the actual storyline instead of M&Ms.  At the opening night of the movie I remember everyone was given a free pack, totally taking you along with Elliot on his garage encounter with our new alien friend.  I don’t recall hearing of Reese’s Pieces before E.T.  The M&M guys blew an opportunity there no doubt.

Every year it seems products become more invasive in actual movies and TV shows.  Once upon a time product names were rearranged on TV shows so a Tide laundry detergent box, for example, had the same logo and design but carried a nondescript word.   Morley brand cigarettes, back to not just the X-Files, but as early as 1961 on The Dick Van Dyke Show, became the TV generic cigarette pack of choice, just as 555 became the area code of everyone in movie land.  Morley was Spike’s brand on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has been seen on Burn Notice, Heroes, Medium, and even William Shatner’s brand in the classic Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at Twenty Thousand Feet.”  But cigarette marketing bans aside, why use a fake brand when you can sell some ad space on your show?

Movie tie-ins are the subject of Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning author Connie Willis’s novel Remake.  The past is “in” and all the women dress in copies of famous Marilyn Monroe dresses and as other stars of classic Hollywood.  But in Remake, the future has arrived and censorship also is “in” and movie studios must edit ads and vices out of old films, essentially undoing all the marketing found in classics of the past. 

In its unabashed, in your face, greatness, no TV show today better uses cross promotional advertising than Subway on the TV series Chuck.  A typical episode has Morgan not just gulping down not just a sub, but a Subway sub and not only a Subway sub but this week’s selected menu sub of the week.  This doesn’t work on the serious drama, but on an off-the-wall genre show like Chuck, it just adds to the shows good-natured fun.  Points go to Chief Brenda Lee Johnson on The Closer.  Her temptation to dig into her drawer for the next Hostess Ding Dong really makes me want to grab the keys and head to the store.

What I find more annoying is cars on TV shows that focus on a car brand, from Claire’s Nissan Rogue in Heroes to the Oldsmobile Silhouette as the “Cadillac of minivans” in Get Shorty to the Ford Taurus conversations (“check out that Ford navigation system”) in White Collar.  That said, I don’t seem to have any issue with all the slick, high-end cars used by James Bond.  Probably because it actually serves to define the character’s wealthy lifestyle.

Subway and Green Lantern teamed up this movie season in a pretty standard ad campaign, with its own website, another current staple of cross-marketing (and even Doritos brand chips get to carry the Green Lantern campaign).  But there’s something not quite right with this campaign.  I don’t know a bigger guacamole fan than me, but spreading the avocado across all things Subway as part of its promotions this season seems a little stranger than usual.  Green is the color for ads this season and all products are apparently welcome.  Bring on the guacamole!

But the Green Lantern avocado is not the strangest thing appearing right now in cross promotions.  Most campaigns, including the Subway campaign, have some reasonable link between the products.  But the X-Men: First Class TV commercial with… Farmers Insurance (?) offers no explanation.  X-Men‘s audience would not seem to be a natural tie to trying to hook a family to a new casualty policy.  So what’s behind this campaign?  Here is one where I have no answer.  Check out the ad for yourself and let me know if you figure this one out:  Farmers X-Men TV commercial

But even this isn’t new.  Check out this old tie-in between the True Blood HBO series and GEICO.  These marketing guys must be on to something…let’s see, what else should we pair with mutants and vampires? 

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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