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Debbie Reynolds' final auction brings in just over $2 million

Debbie Reynolds' final auction brings in just over $2 million
Debbie Reynolds' final auction brings in just over $2 million
Photograph by Kay Shackleton

The third and final Debbie Reynolds' auction has just concluded, earning the entertainer just a little over $2 million. The auction was held at her dance studio by the auction house Profiles in History on May 18, 2014, in North Hollywood, Calif. Getting top bids were several vintage movie cameras, a collection of tuxedos owned by the members of the Hollywood rat pack, Orson Welles fur coat and a piano once owned by Elvis Presley.

Many young girls dream to become a movie star and Debbie Reynolds was the star they looked to for inspiration. She become a contract player at MGM during their golden days of filmmaking and become just that - a movie star when she was still a teenager. This hard working thespian can sing, act and dance and she continued to work as the studios lost their contracts with actors and as the landscape in Hollywood changed. She married, had two children, and married a few times again. Her selections of husbands, by her own admission, were not the best. But this incredibly lady didn't let anything get her down.

As the studios suffered from the changes in Hollywood they threw away important historical Hollywood memorabilia. Who was there to say something about it? You guessed it, it was Debbie Reynolds. She took what little hard-earned money she could and started to build a collection. She went to auctions and bought more.

Eventually, it was hard to deny that Debbie needed and wanted to launch the first Hollywood museum to show off the items that had become iconic to film lovers. There were many tries, a small museum in Las Vegas and a museum effort that eventually went into receivership. The collateral for the final museum project were all the items Debbie lovingly collected, stored and preserved.

Debbie paid back what was due towards the museum well within her first two other successful auctions. Her first auction in June of 2011 stunned the memorabilia world by grossing $18.6 million. The auction included many iconic items including a pair of ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz." Her second auction was held in December of 2011 and she raised an additional $3 million, with the largest single purchase being a movie camera from the film "Star Wars."

This final auction is the remainder of Debbie's collection, except for one piece she kept just for herself, which is the statue from "Maltese Falcon." This auction didn't have the million dollar bids, but it revealed even more the massive collection that Debbie held dear. Fans of the movies watch the auction via the internet from around the world, wishing they could afford a piece of Hollywood history and few of them just may have been able to make that wish come true.

Family of the Academy Award-winning actress Loretta Young released this statement to me, "We're pleased and interested to see items connected to Loretta Young being auctioned. Over the last 2 years (since launching her Centennial celebrations) her popularity and prices for her items have been on the rise." This statement provides clarity that Debbie's vision for Hollywood's most treasured items are important not just to film stars and their family, but they have a long reaching affect. And ultimately proving that this little lady was right about preserving Hollywood's historical items.

See below for a list of the top winners at Debbie Reynolds' final auction.

VISTAVISION MOTION PICTURE CAMERA
VISTAVISION MOTION PICTURE CAMERA Photograph provided from Profiles in History

VISTAVISION MOTION PICTURE CAMERA

VistaVision Motion Picture Camera sold for $130,000.

This movie camera was used in Hitchcock’s "To Catch a Thief," Marlon Brando's only directorial effort "One-Eyed Jacks," Walt Disney’s "Mary Poppins," and George Lucas’ "Star Wars" - just to name a few. The camera was first owned by Paramount Pictures. They used it for several of the Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin films including "Artists and Models."

Alfred Hitchcock was next to use the camera in "To Catch A Thief." And it was used to film Fred Astaire in "Funny Face." The camera was eventually sold to Walt Disney Studios as a special effects camera. The camera was used for the Marlon Brando's "One-Eyed Jacks" in 1961 was used by Peter Ellenshaw to photograph background plates for "Mary Poppins," "Pete’s Dragon," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."

The camera then was borrowed by George Lucas borrowed to photograph special effects on his "Star Wars" series of films. The camera was ultimately returned to Paramount Pictures in the late 1980’s where it was used by Roy H. Wagner ASC, Director of Photography on numerous occasions as a special effects camera principally on the skydiving film "Drop Zone." 

Historic "The Rat Pack" tuxedo ensemble
Historic "The Rat Pack" tuxedo ensemble Photograph provided from Profiles in History

Historic "The Rat Pack" tuxedo ensemble

Historic “The Rat Pack” tuxedo ensemble sold for $120,000.

This ensemble was a collection of suits owned by "The Rat Pack" members Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.

"Debbie Reynolds was very close friends with the members of 'The Rat Pack' and she directly obtained these personally-worn tuxedos from each of them; the only exception being the Lawford ensemble – a tailcoat and matching pants from his screen role in Mrs. Parkington – obtained at the famous MGM auction." - Auction Catalogue

Signature Orson Welles "Kane" mink coat from Citizen Kane
Signature Orson Welles "Kane" mink coat from Citizen Kane Photograph provided from Profiles in History

Signature Orson Welles "Kane" mink coat from Citizen Kane

The signature Orson Welles "Kane" mink coat from "Citizen Kane" sold for $100,000.

Once worn by the icon filmmaker Orson Welles in "Citizen Kane," in 1941, this men's long mink coat features a shawl collar and back slit. Found in pocket was a handwritten note saying, “O. Welles CP" and included a studio cleaning tag.

The coat was expected to fetch from $40,000 to $60,000.

Panavision PSR-148 35mm camera
Panavision PSR-148 35mm camera Photograph provided from Profiles in History

Panavision PSR-148 35mm camera

Panavision PSR-148 35mm camera was sold for $95,000.00.

This camera was used on "The French Connection," "The Exorcist" and other classic films.

This camera was remarkable for many reasons; most importantly it was the first studio reflex camera (other than 20th Century Fox’s Simplex camera which was not available to any other studio). In the 1970s PSR-148 was shipped to New York City. Interviews with cinematographers and camera assistants disclosed that the PSR-148 was the camera on Warner Brothers’ "The Exorcist" (1973) as well as "The French Connection" (1971), "The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight" (1971), "Play It Again Sam" (1972) and "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1974). 

Historic Mitchell NC Standard #257 35mm Camera
Historic Mitchell NC Standard #257 35mm Camera Photograph provided from Profiles in History

Historic Mitchell NC Standard #257 35mm Camera

The historic Mitchell NC Standard #257 35mm Camera sold for $85,000.00.

This early, historic camera was purchased by Universal Studios in 1929. It filmed the Oscar-winning film "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1929), "Dracula" (1931), "Frankenstein" (1931), and shot taken for the re-release of Lon Chaney's "Phantom of the Opera." The camera was used by Universal until 1939.

From 1939 to 1945 the camera was used by Disney in the creation of many of its classic animated films. The camera was used to make "Fantasia," "Pinocchio," "Bambi" and "Dumbo."

Academy Award-winning visual effects pioneer, Linwood Dunn, ASC, considered this camera to be one of the finest Mitchell cameras ever built. 

The camera also filmed "West Side Story," "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."

Elvis Presley's grand piano from his Holmby Hills mansion
Elvis Presley's grand piano from his Holmby Hills mansion Photograph provided from Profiles in History

Elvis Presley's grand piano from his Holmby Hills mansion

Elvis Presley's grand piano from his Holmby Hills mansion sold for $50,000.00.

This vintage Baldwin brand walnut grand piano with double-column pillar legs, includes the piano bench pictured. This grand piano was present in Elvis’ two-acre Holmby Hills home, which he and Priscilla Presley purchased in December of 1970. After five years, Elvis sold the house, including this grand piano in 1975. Who knows what love song was sung using this piano?

'Gone With the Wind" bonnet
'Gone With the Wind" bonnet Photograph provided from Profiles in History

'Gone With the Wind" bonnet

Vivien Leigh "Scarlett O'Hara" pale peach "New Bonnet" hat from "Gone With the Wind" sold for $50,000.00.

This pale peach "New Bonnet" hat was designed by Walter Plunkett for "Gone With the Wind" in 1939. This petite and very pale peach hat has an ivory chiffon overlay, a grey metal hat pin with large pearls and an ivory chiffon tie. It was worn by Vivien Leigh as as “Scarlett O’Hara” when she visits Ashley (Leslie Howard) at the mill "Gone With the Wind." It was obtained by Debbie Reynolds directly from the Selznick Studio and was anticipated to fetch from $20,000 to $30,000.

The Ruby Slippers
The Ruby Slippers Photograph provided from Profiles in History

The Ruby Slippers

This set of re-created Ruby Slippers sold for $44,500.00.

These slippers were re-created by Western Costume Company and were on permanent display at the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from 1994 to 1998. The Western Costume Company made the original ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in "The Wizard of Oz." There are actually several sets of ruby slippers. The slippers worn by Judy Garland are now worth several million of dollars. This set was made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz" and were originally sold for $5,000 a pair.

'Gone With the Wind' hat
'Gone With the Wind' hat Photograph provided from Profiles in History

'Gone With the Wind' hat

Vivien Leigh "Scarlett O'Hara" black straw "Shanty Town" hat from "Gone With the Wind" sold for $35,000.

This hat was also designed by Walter Plunkett for "Gone With the Wind" (1939). It is a petite black straw hat, is accented with black feathers and a golden yellow silk velvet ribbon. The hat wa worn by Vivien Leigh as “Scarlett” when she takes a buggy ride through Shanty Town and is attacked and Big Sam rescues her in "Gone With the Wind."

The hat was obtained by Debbie Reynolds directly from the Selznick Studio and it was expected to fetch $20,000 to $30,000.

 Mae West collection of 15 Items
Mae West collection of 15 Items Photograph provided from Profiles in History

Mae West collection of 15 Items

The Mae West collection of 15 items sold for $27,500.00. 

This collection of Mae West items included a custom-tailored breathtaking gold-metallic weave négligée with ultra-soft white fur trim, several simpler nightgowns, silk scarves. a pair of custom-crafted, double-platform “super lift” elevator shoes (which she wore, obscured by long gowns, for her stage show act).