Debbie Reynolds’ auction surprises…

Vintage fashions and celebrity ensembles were part of the focus of Debbie Reynolds’ last auction Sunday for the closing day of items up for bids.

Debbie Reynolds had a dream to see her extensive collection of vintage clothing, props, cameras, and Hollywood memorabilia find a permanent home in a museum, but unfortunately her financial difficulties in organizing a museum and running a casino culminated in her last auction on May 18.

Some of the more popular items featured in the auction included dresses, costumes and jewelry of Hollywood celebrities. Items from Classic Hollywood stars like Vera- Ellen, Ginger Rogers, Marion Davies, Eva Gabor, Mary Pickford, Katherine Hepburn, Lana Turner, and Elizabeth Taylor graced pages of the voluminous online catalog which allowed bidders to select items of their choice.

Reynolds’ daughter Carrie Fisher had just flown back from London for the filming of the new “Star Wars”sequel in time to attend the beginning of her mother’s last auction, and Fisher also had a few items under the gavel, like personal photos of John Belushi, and “Star Wars” artwork and posters. It was her Judith Leiber ‘Faberge’ purse studded with rhinestones and pearls, a gift from her father Eddie Fisher, that brought the most from her offerings, however, at $2,250.

Harold Lloyd’s prosthetic fingers, one of the most unusual items up for bidding, brought in at least $4,250 when it was sold alongside a pair of his personal glasses.

Two drums used during the filming of “Quo Vadis” brought in a much higher price than the high-end estimate of $300 when they were sold for $2,250.

A pair of cologne decanters owned by actress Mary Pickford, and still bearing some of her perfume, went for $3,500.

Just one of Elizabeth Taylor’s dresses, a Thea Porter black jersey gown with spaghetti straps garnered $2,500. Taylor’s Halston dress and robe fetched $1,500, and the evening gown Taylor wore for her 75th birthday party brought $3,750.

One of the most expensive gowns was a silver-sequined costume worn by Diana Ross, which was sold for $14,000, but unfortunately the photo is unavailable.

A blue chiffon pantsuit trimmed with dyed fox and worn by singer, dancer, and actress Ginger Rogers brought $3,250.

A group of 24 Biblical caftans, capes, robes and tunics from Paramount Pictures were sold for $3,500.

Actress Marie Wilson’s Victory purse from World War II went for $1,200.

Reynolds’ personal linen-backed poster from her popular film, “Singin’ in the Rain,” signed by co-stars Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, reached much higher than its original estimate when it sold for $9,500.

One of the surprises for me occurred when I saw several Gina Lollobrigida costumes from Lady L, a film which eventually starred Sophia Loren. I never knew Lollobrigida had been the original choice for the main character in Lady L, which also eventually starred Paul Newman.

Bidding from “the floor” occurred at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio, the actual auction house for Profiles in History in West Hollywood, and clients often competed with fierce online bidders as certain items had more interest with bidders than others.

During the online auction, preview party Friday evening, Reynolds revealed that she still plans to attend the Warner Brothers’ auction of property and memorabilia whenever it might occur as her passion for rescuing Hollywood’s past continues.

The first two Debbie Reynolds’ memorabilia auctions netted approximately 23 million. All figures quoted from yesterday’s auction are officially unverified, but were amounts that halted the advance of the bidding for each particular lot during the online event, which added two million more dollars to the Reynolds’ coffers. Elvis Presley’s Baldwin grand piano from his Holmby Hills mansion brought $50,000 yesterday, but the item bringing in the most from all of Reynolds’ auctions occurred in 2011, and it was the Marilyn Monroe dress from “The Seven Year Itch” for $4.6 million.

Advertisements

Actress Debbie Reynolds’ online auction party…

TCM Film Festival Guest and TCM Cruise favorite Debbie Reynolds appeared onscreen last evening in another royal blue suit (not this one!) looking lovely. That shade is so complementary and illuminates how vibrant she still is…

The Debbie Reynolds Auction Preview Party was live-streamed on USTREAM for the Hollywood Motion Picture Experience last night from The Debbie Reynolds Studio in West Hollywood. Reynolds was being interviewed by host Steven Sorrentino, with comments from time to time from her son, Todd Fisher, who was wearing a cap and t-shirt, and running around organizing guests and comments. Reynolds discussed the “Gone With The Wind” furniture, Charlie Chaplin’s hats, a carved, wooden buffet used in several Tyrone Power swashbucklers, posters, and dresses. Reynolds, remarking she had fallen earlier in the week and hit her head, even did her impression of Mae West (It’s still spot on!) Son Todd arrived with water for Reynolds, and his wife, actress Catherine Hickland, came to visit with play-by-play host Sorrentino about the collection while Reynolds took her break and did interviews with other media representatives. An open bar helped insure all the patrons were happy, and viewers were able to watch it for free online by following this link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hollywood-motion-picture-experience-presents

Fisher chatted with Stan Freburg, recording artist, comedian, and author, and right before the break, he reminded viewers that Reynolds had to leave to take a break and do a few interviews. Later on in the evening, an online drawing, entered by more than 1500 auction bidders, afforded one lucky participant an extra $1000 to use for bidding on the item of his or her choice. (Colleen from Minnesota was the winner. Two soft-cover catalogs were also awarded as 2nd and 3rd prizes.) Reynolds picked the winning slip out of a silver punch bowl.

After one of the interviews, the online audience was treated to a live-streaming of the “action” as patrons mulled around the exhibit in view of a stationary camera. A pianist was playing “Somewhere in Time” and helped everyone feel in a more expansive mood so that preparing a bid on a favored item wasn’t such a stressful activity. The live feed camera then settled on the “Gone With The Wind” chairs, and the cherubs on the mirrors that were so lovingly restored by Reynolds’ father were readily visible.

Sorrentino, who also offered his Sammy Davis impression while extolling the virtues of the Rat Pack suit colllection, and Reynolds also chatted about two lovely wooden/gilt mirrors that her father helped restore. She purchased them at the MGM auction, and they had been in several Judy Garland movies. Reynolds said it took her father about a year to completely restore them. After her interview, the live feed camera settled on the “Gone With The Wind” chairs, and the cherubs on the mirrors that were so lovingly restored by Reynolds’ father were readily visible.

All of these items were professionally well-preserved. Reynolds explained that Fisher carefully inventoried many of the costumes, and removed the labels which kept the clothing acid free, and she also stated that they consulted the experts at The Smithsonian about proper storage and restorations.

Also during the interview, I think I saw the portrait of Greer Garson from “Mrs. Parkington,” and then I saw the Norma Shearer dress from “Romeo and Juliet.” While they had some tech problems with the live feed sound, and Sorrentino kept trying to locate which camera to pitch to, Reynolds kept chatting and posing for photos with visitors. Laugh-In’s Joanne Worley, Dick Van Patten, and Reynold’s Thalians pal Ruta Lee were reported to be in attendance, but I never saw them onscreen.

Cameraman Roy Wagner, a good friend of Fisher’s, discussed some of the historic cameras featured in the auction with Todd. The Aikley camera Oscar-winning Cameraman Linwood Dunn owned was used on “King Kong,” “Citizen Kane,” and was used for many RKO films. The Vista Vision camera in the auction is one of the few remaining working Vista Vision cameras, and filmed special effects for the “Star Trek” television series, and many classic films like “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn. Wagner discussed the “six-foot” rule during filming (a safety zone which allowed only the Director of Photography within the 6 foot perimeter circling the camera while in use). Wagner also discussed the magic of the box and what each camera had experienced in its varied history.

Daughter Carrie Fisher supposedly made a quick appearance early in the evening.

The last of the lots go on the block this weekend.

Don’t forget to have some fun!

©