Saturday, November 22, 2014

TCM and Bonhams Present : There's No Place Like Hollywood

Turner Classic Movies and Bonhams have teamed up for the second year in a row to present a great auction of classic Hollywood memorabilia, including many pieces from "The Wizard of Oz" and "Casablanca" and a selection of great classic movie costumes... 

I went to the opening night reception for the auction and took photos of many of the costumes to share on the blog. Usually the entertainment memorabilia auctions are in L.A. and I never get to attend to see everything in person, but Bonhams is doing these yearly TCM sales here in NY so it's great to be able to go. The auction has a large selection of great classic movie posters as well, many of which you'll see in the background behind the costumes. Robert Osborne was there and I got to meet him and have a nice chat. He's just as friendly and conversational as he is on the station. It's always nice when you meet a celebrity and they're as nice in person as you'd expect them to be! 

I took these photos at the end of the reception when the galleries were mostly empty so I could get the best photos I could. I took them with my phone so excuse the poor quality of some of them... 

Most of the costumes are from MGM, either acquired at the historic 1970 MGM auction, or in the retail sale held afterward where thousands upon thousands of great costumes were sold...

First up are Laurel and Hardy suits from "Air Raid Wardens" one of the few movies they made at MGM. The Stan Laurel might also be worn in "Nothing But Trouble" from what the description says. It's rare to find anything from this great pair, arguably the most famous comedy team in Hollywood history... below is an image of Stan in the suit...








Lou Costello suits... the tan is from "Lost in a Harem" and the blue from "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood" I loved this one as a kid, especially the cameo by Lucille Ball when Lou interrupts a scene she's filming. I'm so tempted to bid on one of these but I already have his bellhop jacket from "Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff" which I'll be posting to the blog at some point. It's one of my favorite pieces in the collection from one of my favorite movies of the pair. But these suits are awesome, I was so glad to see they survive! Many of the costumes in this sale have never been offered for sale before... 





Judy Garland's velvet Edwardian style gown from "Easter Parade" designed by the great Irene, MGM's main costume designer during the 1940's, and before she had her own couture line of fahsion. She's known mostly for her suits and modern day styles, but this gown shows that she could design beautiful period styles as well. The cut of it is nice...


 

The velvet is a little worn, but costumes from her are always very desirable and I'm sure this one will sell for a lot! I've bid on costumes from her on five different occasions and have always been outbid, and most of the time I was the underbidder. She has a very loyal fanbase, and they really go the distance for her pieces...  But someday I'd like to get something of hers for the collection, and preferably from MGM when she was at the height of her beauty and talent...

There are three costumes from Deborah Kerr in the auction which is nice to see since costumes from her don't come up for sale very often. 

First and the best is her green dress from "Tea and Sympathy" one of her more important movies, and designed by Helen Rose, MGM's head costume designer during the 1950's who mastered the art of the classic cocktail dress. Her styles are always very feminine and she always accentuated the figure of the star she was designing for to flatter them...



The color is a little faded but it still displays beautifully... Many times the costumes discolor completely due to the dyes that were used back then which change color over time, or just run out of the garment altogether. This one still looks good.
 
A cream silk gown from "Please Believe Me" designed by Irene... 





There is a hole in the skirt which can be backed with a matching cream silk, otherwise this gown is a beauty, great on display... In the image you can see she's wearing a jacket, and at first I thought it was a separate piece, but a collector friend of mine pointed out that it's the same material as the bodice, and the bodice was probably made from the jacket for re-use in another movie since the part of the bodice that you can see on screen looks a bit different. As always the studios were very thrifty in re-using things in the wardrobe department. But as we collectors say, at least the costume survives, regardless of the alterations or condition. This one represents the elegance of Kerr.

A silk print dress from "Dream Wife" designed by Helen Rose...




The bodice has been slightly altered, once again for re-use in another movie, but it's a classic cocktail dress of the era, worn nicely in the movie. I love the unique print of this dress and she looks very elegant in it.

Next up is Kay Kendall from "Les Girls" designed by Orry-Kelly, one of the most well known costume designers of classic Hollywood. He was the main designer at Warner Brothers during the 1940's and went on to design independently for many movies. He won the Oscar for his work on "Les Girls" -



 

Kendall is in the middle with Mitzi Gaynor on the right and Tania Elg on the left... The costume appears darker today than it did on screen which is actually the way it should be. The studios used off-white or cream colors to represent white on screen, since true white would get completely washed out under the bright lights during filming... All this costume needs is a period hoop and it would make a great display... 

Grey wool dress worn by Anne Francis in "The Rack" most likely designed by Helen Rose -



It was nice to see this costume from the great Anne Francis. I've always enjoyed her on screen and I don't think she's remembered as well as she should be. Not only was she in a lot of nice movies during the 50's, but along with Angie Dickinson and Diahann Carroll she was one of the first actresses to have the leading role of her own TV show not playing a housewife, mother, or maid, when she did "Honey West" in the early 60's... The dress is in nice shape and is a classic 50's style... 

Here's one of the highlights of the auction, a cocktail dress that Grace Kelly wore in "Mogambo" and a classic example of Helen Rose's great style, especially of a classic cocktail dress...




The dress is made of a fine silk and it's great to see it survive, since being such a delicate piece to begin with, many times dresses like this just fell apart over the years sitting in the wardrobe department unlooked after for decades... This is the nicest thing she wears in the movie too. "Mogambo" is one of the early movies of her short career that she gave up when she became Princess of Monaco. I have two pairs of her safari pants from the movie that I'll be posting later on. I feel lucky to have those, if only I could afford this dress! It's a real treasure for any costume collection, since it represents her at the height of her beauty, and is a prominent costume in the movie. 

A period gown worn by Rita Hayworth in "The Loves of Carmen" designed by Jean Louis -



This one is a beauty and is in excellent condition. It's black lace and chiffon over a burgundy silk. She wears it at the end of the movie during the dramatic finale. It was originally sold in the second auction of Debbie Reynolds' collection which was only a couple of years ago. If I was the high bidder on this great costume I don't think I would be parting with it so quickly! 

Another costume from Rita which is one of the highlights of the sale is one of her signature gowns from "Gilda" 





The gown is a work of art by the great Jean Louis, one of the most brilliant costume designers in Hollywood history... He gave Rita a signature look, and did the same for other actresses at Columbia Studios like Kim Novak and Judy Holliday. The hand beading on this piece is really something, all against a fine silk crepe. Some of the beads are missing which can be seen in the photos but it doesn't detract from the beauty of this piece. It's common for these vintage costumes to have bead loss, since as the threads age and deteriorate, the beads fall off... My Gloria Swanson gown that can be seen in a separate post has the same issue. 

This one has the highest estimate out of any of the ladies costumes at 40K! It'll be interesting to see what the hammer price is for this museum piece. It'd be great if a museum wound up with it... 

This costume I was really taken with, a period frock coat worn by Laurence Olivier in "Wuthering Heights" designed by Omar Kiam who was one of the more prolific costume designers of the 1930's -




I love collecting the vintage men's costumes, whether they be period like this coat or a modern day style. They're always so well made with nice wool and usually silk lined. Many times they also survive in much better condition then the ladies costumes since they are more sturdy to begin with. This one is made of a supple dark orange wool that has a herringbone weave to it. Aside from the hole in the sleeve it's in great shape. And the hole could be rewoven and you'd barely notice that it was there once it was displayed. I love that this is from such an early and important classic. It's one of those movies I saw early on and it stayed with me ever since. Not only is the story so haunting, but his performance, as well as Merle Oberon's and the rest of the cast is just great... 

June Allyson's gown from "Woman's World," and check out the great original one sheet from "The Women" in the background. I love that poster, the artwork of Crawford, Shearer, and Russell is awesome, and it's one of the great Hollywood classics...




The gown was designed by Charles LeMaire, Fox's head of wardrobe during the 1950's, and is made of a floral damask print kind of silk, really nice and rich looking... It's her main gown from the movie and is in excellent condition. She wears it prominently at the end during the dinner scene, and it's also seen when she goes to buy it at a dress sale with Lauren Bacall. I have the skirt suit she wears during that scene which I'll be posting another time... It's nice to see another costume of hers from the movie surface! 

Here is Marge Champion's dress from "Everything I Have Is Yours" 


 






The bodice has been altered a bit with the flowers added, but they can be removed to bring the dress back to the way she wore it on screen. It's nice that she dances in it with her husband, Gower Champion. They were two of the best at MGM during the glory days of the studio's musicals... And it's a real classic style of the era. Even as a dance dress it has the classic Helen Rose look... 

Another Helen Rose piece is this great bathing suit Esther Williams wore in "Easy To Love" -



It has a lot of discoloration, as well as shattering to the material at the bust on one side, but the fact that it survives is amazing. It's easily the most important bathing suit of her long career of "swimming" musicals at MGM. The finale she wears it in is considered the most famous from her movies and it was also featured in "That's Entertainment."


A period gown worn by Maureen O'Hara in "The Foxes of Harrow" designed by Rene Hubert. He was known for designing great period pieces, as well as the art deco modern day styles he created for Gloria Swanson early in his career. Two of the other costumes on the blog are by him, the Swanson and Linda Darnell gowns...




First I have to say, congratulations to Maureen O'Hara for receiving the Honorary Oscar for 2014. It was just announced during the Academy's Governor's ball last week, and it's about time they honor her! She's had one of the most legendary careers in Hollywood history, beginning with the great "Hunchback of Notre Dame" in 1939, right up to "Only the Lonely" in 1991. She starred in many great classics during the intervening 52 years, and it's nice to see her finally get an Oscar for her career overall. This gown is from one of the many great period movies she made at Fox during the 1940's... 

Here's another one of the highlights of the sale, a costume worn by Marilyn Monroe in "River of No Return" and designed by Travilla, who was Fox's main costume designer during the 50's and designed for most of Marilyn's movies. He gave her a signature look with the famous subway dress, and with the designs he created for her in movies like "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" and "How To Marry a Millionaire." This gown shows how adept he was at period styles as well...




It's an amazing costume, and in great condition. It originally came from Debbie Reynolds, and she got all of her Marilyn costumes right out of 20th Century Fox studios back in the early 70's. They were in her historic collection for 40 some odd years after leaving the studio, so they were looked after and survive in great condition. Most of the Marilyn costumes she sold in the series of auctions of her collection, as well as  her other costumes acquired directly from Fox were all in great condition. It's nice when one devoted collector like Debbie looked after these pieces for so many years and preserved them well. The intricacy of the sequins on this gown is so unique, and it displays beautifully. A definite museum piece! Marilyn is by far the most valuable star from classic Hollywood. Ever since her historic estate auction at Christie's more than a decade ago, her personal belongings as well as her movie worn costumes have continued to skyrocket in value...

And now the big highlights of the auction... the great items from "Casablanca" and "The Wizard of Oz", including Bert Lahr's original Cowardly Lion costume... it is the most featured item in the sale and is incredible to see in person - 


One of Judy Garland's test dresses from the movie, as well as an original three sheet poster from the 1949 reissue -


Some of the great Munchkin costumes, and one of the flying monkey capelets - how cool is that?! Only for an all time classic like Oz can you see a costume worn by an extra and know immediately what it is! As many times as I've seen the movie and all the times I've seen pieces from it in auction or on display somewhere it never fails to impress... It's easily the ultimate of classic Hollywood movies, and the most sought after in the world of Hollywood memorabilia...

All of the costumes from Oz were designed by Adrian, MGM's desginer during the 1930's. The gowns he designed for stars like Garbo, Crawford, Shearer, MacDonald, etc. are very desirable in the world of collecting and rarely surface. He left the studio around 1940 to start his own couture line of fashion and even those pieces are very collectible today. He's arguably one of the most talented and innovative costume and fashion designers of the 20th century. And his incredible designs for Oz add so much to the movie. 



Bonhams did a great job with the display, it was set up like a museum. You almost wish it didn't have to come down after the auction! The "Casablanca" items were set up the same way... In this photo you can see the famous piano from Rick's cafe, played by Dooley Wilson "because my hair is curly" (I love it when he starts to sing this, lol), and where Bogart hid the documents... It's one of the most famous props in existence... Also on display is a lamp from the cafe, a chair, a screen, some of the outdoor furniture, doors from the cafe, and S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall's tux coat... A lucky zillionaire could recreate half the set right in their home!



It was fun seeing everything, here's a link the the actual auction...