Sunday, June 5, 2011

On the Block: The Debbie Reynolds Auction

One of the world's largest collection of the most iconic costumes in Hollywood film history goes on the block June 18th. Collected over half a century by actress (and icon herself) Debbie Reynolds, dealer Profiles in History will auction some 3500 sketches, 20,000 original photographs and scores of props, costume sketches and movie posters.

Some of the highlights include Scarlett's green velvet and bird feather "drapery" hat from Gone With the Wind, Marilyn's infamous subway grate white dress from The Seven Year Itch and Elizabeth Taylor's gilt headdress from Cleopatra. Claudette Colbert's gold lame gown from the 1934 version of Cleopatra. The Little Tramp's bowler hat and Judy Garland's ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz along with Audrey Hepburn's black and white costume from My Fair Lady are must haves. Costumes from Travilla, Edith Head and Travis Banton will be featured as well.

The star of Singin in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown began her collection in 1970 when MGM studio was purchased and consolidated and the studios goodies were sold to an auctioneer.  She sifted through 300,000 costumes, scripts, furniture and props, curating a wonderful array of memorabilia fit for a museum. Reynolds spent decades trying to find the proper home but to no avail.

It is sad to think this incredible collection of Hollywood history won't make it to a museum and hopefully private collectors will give it a good home.

Monroe's subway dress

Audrey Hepburn's hat  from My Fair Lady

Marilyn Monroe's gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Click your heels three times

Scarlett's hat in Gone With the Wind

Elizabeth Taylor's headdress in Cleopatra above and below

Claudette Colbert's gilded creation in 1934's Cleopatra

Elizabeth Taylor's costume in  National Velvet

If you want to own a piece of film history, the auction takes place Saturday, June 18th at the Paley Center for Media, 465 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills at noon. And if you can't be there or Charlton Heston's Ben Hur tunic is not in your budget (it's rumored that Monroe's subway dress will fetch up to two million dollars), the catalogue is a must read and can be purchased here.

Photo Credits: Profiles in History, Twentieth Century Fox, MGM


  1. What a fabulous collection! That auction will surely attract movie and memorabilia buffs from every corner of the earth. Debbie really amassed a marvelous treasure trove of goodies. Great post :)

  2. Apparently Reynolds is heartbroken over the sale as she tried for decades to get financing and find a proper home for her treasures. Hoping some major collector will buy the majority and donate to a museum. Truly one of those times you wish you could win the lottery!

  3. What an amazing collection. I've read over the years how DR was trying to start a museum for a collection. It's too bad it didn't work out for her. Hopefully someone with $$$ will share her vision.

  4. This is a really good read for me. Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw. Thanks for posting this useful blog.
    movie reel décor pander to our wild senses, titillate our innermost emotions and just pep up our lives. Movies are today just a mini caricature of our real life. In a very big way, the real life has transformed and this is portrayed on the celluloid nowadays.

  5. Thank you so much for your kind words and the power of film is incredible!

  6. How sad that Paramount didn't make Cleopatra in technicolor. The gown and jewelry shown above are absolutely stunning and combined with the elaborate sets, it must've been a visually dazzling production to see in person. Whenever I see this film, I try and and imagine what the actual colors are, instead of the grays and blacks we see.