Debbie Reynolds collection at Profiles in History, June 18

This U.S. Army uniform was worn by Gary Cooper in his Academy Award-winning role as Alvin C. York in Sergeant York. Pre-auction estimates are $20,000 – $30,000. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

This U.S. Army uniform was worn by Gary Cooper in his Academy Award-winning role as Alvin C. York in Sergeant York. Pre-auction estimates are $20,000 – $30,000. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (ACNI) – For pop culture enthusiasts whose collecting inclinations lean toward the great moments in film history, it’s hard to imagine a more target-rich environment than The Debbie Reynolds Collection, which will be auctioned on June 18, 2011 at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills under the auspices of Profiles in History. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide the Internet live bidding.

Among the more than 3,500 items included in the collection are props, costumes and memorabilia from the Golden Age of cinema, which Reynolds has amassed over five decades. Even by star power alone and not allowing for the connection to specific films, the list of names represented would make this a collection of note, but when taken in total it’s hard to imagine an offering of this size and scope coming on the market again.

Selections from the collection include Marilyn Monroe’s subway dress from The Seven Year Itch, Judy Garland’s blue cotton dress and ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Charlie Chaplin’s “Tramp” bowler hat, Harpo Marx’s signature top hat and wig, Julie Andrews’ costumes from The Sound of Music, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly’s sailor uniforms from Anchors Aweigh, three Gene Kelly costumes from Singin’ In The Rain, and Cary Grant’s gray wool sport coat from Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief.

Ranging from the silent era to the 1980s, the offerings include many different genres and span multiple remakes of such classics as Mutiny on the Bounty, Cleopatra, and Ben-Hur. In addition to the staggering assortment of costumes, the collection also includes movie cameras from various eras, set pieces, prop miniatures, one-sheets, three-sheets and other movie posters, rare lobby cards, set designs and costume concept illustrations (including work by famed costumer Edith Head), contracts, correspondence, scripts and other specialty items. Selections are also available from the personal effects of such stars as Mary Pickford, Marion Davies, and W.C. Fields.

Whether one collects film or performer-centric items, it is clear that The Debbie Reynolds Collection benefited from Reynolds’ insider position in Hollywood. It is almost just as certain, though, that her eye for great pieces and understanding of film history paved the way for her efforts, which began in earnest in the late 1960s and early 1970s and grew to include the goal of eventually opening a museum for the material.

A native of El Paso, Texas, Reynolds’ show business career began at age 17 when she won the local Miss Burbank beauty pageant. This, in turn, led to a contract at MGM Studios and a career that included films such as Singin’ in the Rain and her Oscar-nominated performance in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and after 62 years in the business she continues to perform in film, on television, and on stage regularly.

“My love for collecting began early in my MGM career. I used to spend my spare time in the wardrobe department, watching the most talented people create costumes for the actors. I was fascinated by how they were able to translate a simple suggestion in a script, sometimes even a piece of dialogue, into a magnificent costume. I loved everything that went into the process – the sketches, the fabrics, the construction,” Reynolds wrote in her introduction to the auction catalog.

She said her passion for collecting was fueled when the big studios broke up their inventories.

“In 1970 MGM announced it was going to auction off everything except their real estate. I was still under contract at MGM and knew this inventory well. These were the clothes that the studio wouldn’t even lend us to wear to events or parties. Prior to this auction, I was a ‘normal’ collector. After the auction, preserving as many of these costumes as possible became my obsession,” she said.

“After MGM’s auction, the other studios followed suit. I was very for¬tunate that I knew the president of Fox Studios, who allowed me to purchase many items prior to their auction. Over the years, I continued to save as many pieces as I could as the studios threatened their very existence,” she said.

In addition to her comments, the catalog opens with an introduction by writer-producer-director George Lucas, and a note from daughter Carrie Fisher. It then immediately dives into movie history with a Bell and Howell 2709 35 mm motion picture camera circa 1915, Rudolph Valentino’s “Juan Gallardo” signature “Suit of Lights” matador outfit by Travis Banton for the 1922 Blood and Sand, Mary Pickford’s “Dorothy Vernon” period hat from Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall, Francis X. Bushman’s “Messala” historic winged charioteer helmet from the 1925 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, Harold Lloyd’s personal blue suit with signature straw hat dated 1928, a Mitchell Standard Model A 35 mm motion picture camera circa late 1920s, and a 1918 Ford Model T used in Laurel & Hardy films.

The line-up of famous names continues with Greta Garbo’s dark green velvet period dress from Anna Karenina, a Cine Simplex Model D 35mm motion picture camera circa 1930s, Clark Gable’s ivory wool vest and pantaloons from Mutiny on the Bounty, W. C. Fields’ royal blue two-piece captain’s suit from Mississippi, Basil Rathbone’s iconic caped overcoat from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Hound of the Baskervilles, Gary Cooper’s complete World War I U.S. Army uniform with accessories from Sergeant York, Claude Rains’ ivory uniform from Casablanca, and Edmund Gwenn’s red silk and velvet Santa Claus outfit from Miracle on 34th Street.

The name parade moves on with Rita Hayworth’s death scene dress from The Loves of Carmen, Elizabeth Taylor’s period lavender dress by Walter Plunkett for Little Women, Ginger Rogers’ gold lamé dress from Barkleys of Broadway, Glenn Ford’s personal favorite saddle, the full-scale, intricately detailed, gilt-lacquered Ark of the Covenant from David and Bathsheba, Lucille Ball’s brown skirt, blouse and coat from The Long, Long Trailer, Marlon Brando’s Napoleon Bonaparte coronation costume from Desirée, and Rock Hudson’s (“Jordan ‘Bick’ Benedict, Jr.”) raw silk Western suit from Giant.

Robert Duvall, Jimmy Stewart, Lana Turner, Mae West, Sean Connery, Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint, Kim Novak, Dean Martin, Natalie Wood, Robert Redford, George C. Scott, Mel Gibson, and Tom Cruise are also among the performers associated with the pieces offered.

The Paley Center for Media is open to the public for previews now through Friday, June 17, from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

The auction begins at noon Pacific Time on Saturday, June 18. View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Copyright 2011 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


One of the most iconic images of the 1950s depicts Marilyn Monroe in what is known as the “subway” dress, worn in The Seven Year Itch (20th Century Fox, 1955). Bidding in the range of $1 - $2 million. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

One of the most iconic images of the 1950s depicts Marilyn Monroe in what is known as the “subway” dress, worn in The Seven Year Itch (20th Century Fox, 1955). Bidding in the range of $1 – $2 million. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

Worn by Judy Garland during the first two weeks of filming for The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939), this outfit is expected to bring $60,000-$80,000 in Profiles in History’s auction of The Debbie Reynolds Collection on June 18. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

Worn by Judy Garland during the first two weeks of filming for The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939), this outfit is expected to bring $60,000-$80,000 in Profiles in History’s auction of The Debbie Reynolds Collection on June 18. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

Charlton Heston’s cape and tunic from the role of Judah Ben-Hur in MGM’s 1959 feature Ben-Hur has estimates of $20,000-$30,000. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

Charlton Heston’s cape and tunic from the role of Judah Ben-Hur in MGM’s 1959 feature Ben-Hur has estimates of $20,000-$30,000. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

Julie Andrews’ guitar from the 1965 20th Century Fox release of The Sound of Music is expected to bring $20,000-$30,000. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

Julie Andrews’ guitar from the 1965 20th Century Fox release of The Sound of Music is expected to bring $20,000-$30,000. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

This Bell and Howell 2709 35 mm motion picture camera was state of the art in 1915. Now bidding is expected in the range of $10,000 – $15,000 for this part of The Debbie Reynolds Collection. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

This Bell and Howell 2709 35 mm motion picture camera was state of the art in 1915. Now bidding is expected in the range of $10,000 – $15,000 for this part of The Debbie Reynolds Collection. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

Claude Rains wore this uniform as “Captain Louis Renault” in Casablanca (Warner Bros., 1942). Pre-auction estimates range from $12,000 to $15,000. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.

Claude Rains wore this uniform as “Captain Louis Renault” in Casablanca (Warner Bros., 1942). Pre-auction estimates range from $12,000 to $15,000. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.