Debbie Reynolds was America’s original Sweetheart, the adorable female lead in Singin’ in the Rain, was left by Eddie Fisher for her best friend Elizabeth Taylor, is mother to Carrie Fisher and remains a Hollywood survivor and force of nature.
Did you know that Debbie Reynolds has also been the keeper of the Hollywood flame for almost fifty years? Reynolds’ is the biggest collection of movie memorabilia in existence. In 1970 she purchased contents from MGM and Twentieth Century Fox when they downsized their lots, and dedicated herself to their preservation, all the while continuing to collect as much as she could. Reynolds told Mrs. Robinson how she came to accumulate such treasures.
“Show business has given me a lot, and now I am just trying to give something back. I’ve been in the motion picture business since 1948 and MGM was like my home. I was there for 17 years. When the studios decided to sell the entire property, it was all very sentimental to me. They literally threw away our history and I just got caught up in it. When I heard there was to be an auction, I took my entire savings and bought the majority of genuine items such as Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz.”
“Through the years, I managed to create the largest collection in the world and my original hope was to create a wonderful Motion Picture Museum where visitors could see these precious and historical artifacts. When plans for that did not evolve to what I envisioned, I decided to auction the collection, in the hopes that other individuals, collectors and museums might be able to preserve that legacy.”
The 900-item lot for sale this weekend is the last from Reynolds’ collection. Reynolds will preside over the event at her Beverly Hills dance studio where she will say goodbye to the last of her breathtaking collection. The collection is star-studded and comprehensive, featuring items from the silent era to today, including costumes, poster art, and properties. Bidding is expected to be at a fever pitch.
Charlie Chaplin’s bowler, Scarlett O’Hara’s bonnet and Tom Hank’s Big suit are on the block with Star Wars items, some signed by Reynolds’ daughter Carrie Fisher, and bespoke costumes worn by Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Mae West, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Fred Astaire, Shirley MacLaine, Cary Grant, Orson Welles, the swaggering dudes of the Rat Pack and the lady herself.
Reynolds’ “touring” Ruby Slippers are expected to go for a minimum of $50k and Elvis Presley’s Grand Piano, pool table and soda fountain together are valued at $26k.
These items will fetch top dollar (the first of two previous sales netted $26M), but there are items more suited to the average collector including autographed pictures, film art, lobby cards, letters, cameras and jewelry.
Reynolds has displayed the collection, at least portions of it, at her hotel in Las Vegas as well as at the famous intersection of Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles and in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, not far from Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s downhome attraction.
Reynolds was deeply hurt when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences turned down her request – five times – to give the items a permanent home. She told The Hollywood Reporter “It was refused each time.” She’s saddened that the pieces are scattered but will not now donate the times to the Academy which is now planning its own museum. “I am a little hurt. I mean, I don’t feel that I should donate what I have left of my collection. … I did it all when nobody else would.”
Reynolds will hold on to just one item, an original Maltese Falcon, calling it the “one man that did not get away” in reference to her three failed marriages. As for the rest says Reynolds, “Of course, there is a bittersweet sentiment I feel with this final auction, but I’ve done two already, and have come to realize and accept that these cherished items will find new and happy homes. My son Todd Fisher has done an exceptional job in organizing and preparing this and we are looking forward to celebrating Hollywood’s important legacy in this finale.”
Joe Maddelena of Hollywood-based Profiles in History will sell Reynolds’ items through his website www.profilesinhistory.com. Maddelena specialises in high profile film objects and owns virtually every Guinness Book record for prices of original screen-used memorabilia. On-line bidders are welcome. Click here to see the incredible walk-down-memory-lane catalogue.
“Debbie Reynolds – The Auction Finale” Is This Weekend, May 17 & 18 at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in Hollywood.