The online auction house Invaluable introduced me to an upcoming auction that features some really incredible classic Hollywood items. I’ve had a fantastic time looking through the lots: there are costumes, scripts, props, posters, fan magazines, photographs, vintage animation stuff, equipment–it’s a treasure trove!
The auction, Hollywood Auction 83 by Profiles in History, is a three-day event starting at 11:00 AM PST on June 29, 30, and July 1. It includes items from recent films like X-Men and James Bond, as well as items from TV shows, a large selection of science fiction props, and of course memorabilia from the classical era.
I’ve listed some of my favorites below, but I encourage you to check out the catalog, as there are almost 1,700 items, some of which are truly astounding! It’s like going to a movie museum from the comfort of your couch. Plus, I always find it fascinating to get a “behind the scenes” look at these movies and stars through the props, photos, scripts, and advertising paraphernalia. (Heads up: there are also some vintage Bettie Paige photographs as well as a few nude pin-ups, so just be aware if you’re looking at these with kids!)
Here are some of my favorite items up for auction:
- Lot 2: (100+) vintage original behind the scenes photographs of early Hollywood studios and filmmaking.
This amazing collection includes images of directors Alfred Hitchcock, Cecil B. DeMille, George Cukor, and many others, as well as behind the scenes photos from the sets of Romeo and Juliet, Maisie Was a Lady, The Glass Slipper, In the Good Old Summertime, and several other films.
- Lot 14: Collection of (500+) vintage and contemporary oversize photographic portraits.
This huge collection includes portraits of Lauren Bacall, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Esther Williams, Clark Gable, Maureen O’Hara, Spencer Tracy, and many, many more. There are also on-set photographs and publicity shots from films dating from the 1920s-2010s. The lot includes some signed images, and several portraits by the master photographers George Hurrell and Clarence Sinclair Bull. Amazing!
(If you’re looking for items relating to specific stars, there are lots of photographs and other materials featuring Carole Lombard, Rita Hayworth, and Marilyn Monroe, for example, and the catalog is easily searchable.)
- Lot 19: Laura vintage original studio file copy script.
How cool to get to see an actual script from this classic 1944 film noir!
- Lot 22: Easter Parade vintage original MGM advertising strategy manual.
This fascinating find is a 56-page manual with advertising strategies, biographies of the stars, suggested tag-lines, and images that theater owners could use to promote Easter Parade (1948) starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. I’m really interested in how movies were advertised back then…and my birthday is coming up! (Just kidding, but do take a look!)
- Lot 29: Dial “M” for Murder vintage original script.
Sometimes our favorite movies seem pre-ordained, perfect, and real, so it’s always interesting to see how what was on the page got to the screen. (Particularly for a Hitchcock film like Dial M for Murder!) And to be reminded that it’s just a story! (There are also scripts from Summer Stock, All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and many more!)
- Lot 54: Collection of (60+) vintage original half sheet posters.
Classics such as Dinner at Eight, Little Women, Meet Me in St. Louis, I Remember Mama, A Star is Born (1937), and The Black Swan are included in this collection, which spans the 1930s-80s. What a treasure!
- Lot 43: Collection of (300+) vintage original Hollywood and entertainment-related magazines
Dating from the 1900s-1970s, this lot contains issues of Photoplay, Screenland, Modern Screen, Movie Life, Motion Picture, Movieland, and dozens more. I’d love to sit down and pore over these for days!
- Lot 811: MGM Lion (2) vintage original studio paperweights.
These 4.5 inch long bronze lions date from the 1930s-40s, and are embossed with “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Lion/The Greatest Star On The Screen” on both sides of the base. I wold love to know if these were made for internal use, gifts to exhibitors, or as novelties, etc. I love these lions: they might be the most charming, unexpected item I’ve found! Did I mention my birthday?
- Lot 835: Fred Astaire personal vintage original Columbia Motion Picture Employee card.
If the lions are the cutest items, this is one of the most amazing. I’ve never seen an employee card–it’s hilarious to think of a star like Fred Astaire needing identification! Plus, the numbers across his chest make the photo look like a mug shot! The card dates from 1942 and includes Astaire’s age, weight (132 pounds), some other stats, and his fingerprints. It’s worth a look!
- Lot 846: Vintage 35mm silent motion picture titler.
The auction includes some equipment from the Golden Age and even the early days of cinema, including this 35mm titler from 1912. So cool!
- Lot 900: William Tuttle’s personal vintage makeup kit.
Tuttle was a make-up artist at MGM for decades, and he worked on classics like The Wizard of Oz, Summer Stock, Singin’ in the Rain, and North by Northwest.
He painted the face of just about every star at the studio, and later became a legend in science fiction makeup. This kit dates from the 1950s-70s, and is estimated to go for $8,000-$12,000!
- Lot 951: Lucille Ball signature “Lucy Ricardo” polka dot dress designed by Elois Jenssen for I Love Lucy.
This iconic navy blue and white dress was a “master” dress on the series and was specially designed for Ball and the demands of a television show. For example, the scoop neckline made quick costume changes easier and minimized makeup smudging.
It’s such a famous dress that it’s usually the outfit of choice for Lucy impersonators, and it’s estimated to sell for an astounding $60,000-80,000!
- Lot 1052: Lovely to Look At (2) vintage original title art cards.
- Lot 1613: Pale lavender Embassy Ball gown created for My Fair Lady.
This lovely dress was created for the Audrey Hepburn film and worn by an extra in the Embassy ball scene. There are a few other costumes from the movie up for auction, though none were worn by the principal actors.
These items are just a tiny percentage of the treasures in this auction. I highly recommend you head over to the catalog and take a look for yourself. I haven’t even mentioned the memorabilia from recent films, nor the hundreds of other Golden Age lots that are rare, interesting, and beautiful! Plus, many of the items are estimated in the hundreds of dollar range: the Lucy dress is an exception, so don’t be frightened away by that steep price tag!
Hollywood Auction 83 starts at 11:00 AM PST on June 29, 30, and July 1, but you can place bids online at any time. Invaluable also has a dedicated Movie Memorabilia category, so there are always fun things popping up there, too. Happy looking and bidding!
*The image of the auction at the top of the post is from All Through The Night (1942).