Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Classic Hollywood/Hollywood's Golden Age


Recommended Posts

I find the prices shocking! It's no wonder Reynolds couldn't find anyone to purchase the whole collection. Who could possibly afford it? Certainly no museum, unless a wealthy donor came forward on its behalf. Clothing and costumes are notoriously difficult to preserve, so one hope the buyers have the good sense to further invest in the proper treatment and storage of their new trophies.

Anthony

Link to comment

I find the prices shocking! It's no wonder Reynolds couldn't find anyone to purchase the whole collection. Who could possibly afford it? Certainly no museum, unless a wealthy donor came forward on its behalf. Clothing and costumes are notoriously difficult to preserve, so one hope the buyers have the good sense to further invest in the proper treatment and storage of their new trophies.

My understanding is that Reynolds neither wanted nor asked for market prices from a potential museum/backer for her collection. She wanted to donate the collection while possibly covering any debts she had incurred over the years maintaining this one-of-a-kind collection. I get every sense that she was willing to part with her collection for far below market value.

Link to comment

Thanks for bumping this topic up...I spent awhile looking through the catalog pdf, which I found to be incredibly interesting; towards page 140 or so there seems to be the "dance" section with beautiful costumes from the ballet in An American in Paris, Singing in the Rain (obviously!) and even a tutu that belonged to Maria Tallchief.

I can't even begin to imagine where she's been storing all of this all through the years--there's SO much stuff.

Link to comment

I find the prices shocking! It's no wonder Reynolds couldn't find anyone to purchase the whole collection. Who could possibly afford it? Certainly no museum, unless a wealthy donor came forward on its behalf. Clothing and costumes are notoriously difficult to preserve, so one hope the buyers have the good sense to further invest in the proper treatment and storage of their new trophies.

My understanding is that Reynolds neither wanted nor asked for market prices from a potential museum/backer for her collection. She wanted to donate the collection while possibly covering any debts she had incurred over the years maintaining this one-of-a-kind collection. I get every sense that she was willing to part with her collection for far below market value.

And of course Reynolds isn't responsible for the amounts people are willing to spend at auctions. Although I agree with Anthony that these amounts were....excessive. So sad that in these hard times there are people who are willing to fork over four million dollars for a movie star's old costume. I hope that person's charitable contributions match up.

Link to comment

And of course Reynolds isn't responsible for the amounts people are willing to spend at auctions. Although I agree with Anthony that these amounts were....excessive. So sad that in these hard times there are people who are willing to fork over four million dollars for a movie star's old costume. I hope that person's charitable contributions match up.

I see your and Anthony's point, but I'm glad she's getting the big money, because these are at least worthy, exotic items, and they should definitely be considered serious art. Things are sold on the art market for much more than that all the time that don't seem worth anything (Damien Hirst et alia), and in the financial industries, you don't have any object at all for the billionaires to offer--they just trade financial instruments, and get obese bonuses; so this seems like something she really deserved after trying so hard to get the objects placed in a museum. And she's the pluckiest lady ever; if anybody deserves to make it big in business this late in life, she does. Especially since she never did it for that purpose. I can't think of any major Hollywood character who has loved Hollywood itself more than Debbie Reynolds. How can you not love her just for collecting all this stuff, without knowing she was making a wise investment of that sort at all. Now maybe I understand why she was Peter Martins's favourite American movie-star idol when he was a kid. Even after 'Postcards from the Edge' and talk about their mother/daughter difficulties, Carrie Fisher said without reservation 'My mother is an extraordinary woman'. I agree, and all this collecting she did was a beautiful project.

Link to comment

Oh, I certainly don't begrudge Reynolds the money. If all her good intentions can't be fulfilled, at least she is rewarded in this way. I still think several millions of dollars for these costumes is out of line, especially at this time.

Link to comment

Like dirac, I certainly don't begrudge Reynolds the money. How could anybody, when she alone saved and preserved these items for so many years? (And anyway, who doesn't love Debbie Reynolds and wish her all success and happiness?) Let's face it, though, the costs were not driven up so high by their intrinsic aesthetic value, but because they were worn by famous people in iconic movie scenes. It's pure fetishism with mass appeal, like having a piece of the true cross, and people or corporations want to turn that fetishism into an investment opportunity. Well, it's a free country and people can spend their money however they like, I guess. Perhaps some of them will go on tour--more money-making potential--so at least people can see them instead of having them locked away in a vault somewhere.

Anthony

Link to comment
Let's face it, though, the costs were not driven up so high by their intrinsic aesthetic value, but because they were worn by famous people in iconic movie scenes.

Rather like Princess Diana's gowns - not necessarily classic designs but their value lies in having been worn by Princess Diana. Some of the purchasers may well be just plain fans, albeit fans with really deep pockets. I think also of the auction of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' possessions - many of them not particularly remarkable but people paid over a lot of money for them, because of their associations.

How can you not love her just for collecting all this stuff, without knowing she was making a wise investment of that sort at all.

Yes, she seems to have bought them just because she thought it was a shame that they were being sold off in the fire sale manner miliosr described. Cheers to her and I hope she enjoys the proceeds.

Link to comment

I discovered this very unusual photo at the Joan Crawford - Best of Everything site:

http://www.joancrawfordbest.com/59joannormawaldhwood.htm

It's unusual because, during their heyday at M-G-M, Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford rarely consented to be photographed together, especially in casual shots. The picture was taken in 1959 but Shearer doesn't look that far removed from her 30s self (the flattering lighting helps a lot.) While Crawford looks almost unrecognizable from her 30s self, she certainly got the last laugh over her "rival" Shearer (the rivalry was largely on Crawford's part), who is now almost completely forgotten.

Link to comment

Thanks for that photo, miliosr. Shearer looked wonderful until quite late in life. Sadly for her, her mind gave out before her body did.

It's true that Crawford made a few pictures that have stood the test of time better than most of Shearer's - the latter is now known chiefly to buffs, as you say -- but she also owes much of her posthumous fame, or notoriety, to her daughter Christina's memoir and the subsequent movie. I doubt if Shearer would envy her that "last laugh."

Link to comment

As an FYI, I just checked the PVR and found an episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" , and Debbie Reynolds was the guest judge. She looked fantastic in a lilac jacket and pants. When the host said that it was wonderful to have her, she replied, "It's wonderful to be alive" :D

Link to comment

Thanks for that photo, miliosr. Shearer looked wonderful until quite late in life. Sadly for her, her mind gave out before her body did.

Yes, I've read that she started calling her second husband "Irving" at one point.

It's true that Crawford made a few pictures that have stood the test of time better than most of Shearer's - the latter is now known chiefly to buffs, as you say -- but she also owes much of her posthumous fame, or notoriety, to her daughter Christina's memoir and the subsequent movie. I doubt if Shearer would envy her that "last laugh."

Fair enough. Shearer may have even thought she got the better of Crawford in the 60s when the latter started her run of "horror hag" movies. (I would argue that Baby Jane is an outstanding popular thriller, though.)

Still, for all the hit that Crawford's public image took as a result of that book and that movie, I think it kept Crawford's flame alive long enough for new interest in her work to develop. Case in point: I bought the recent, lavish Rizzoli book Joan Crawford: Enduring Star as a treat for my birthday. Interestingly, the focus isn't on the Warner Brothers film noirs or the 60s horror movies. Instead, the book devotes much of its space to Crawford's work at M-G-M between 1925 and 1943. Other than Garbo and Judy Garland, I can't think of another M-G-M star from that era who could still prompt a book like Enduring Star. So, Christina's book may have had all sorts of consequences which the author never anticipated when she committed her act of matricide.

Link to comment

I agree, Baby Jane is a classic and Crawford is good in it. You're right, however, in that Shearer would have considered such appearances too high a price to pay to keep appearing before the public, and I also think you may be onto something about Mommie Dearest. I wonder what Joan would have thought.

Yes, I've read that she started calling her second husband "Irving" at one point.

In the old movie stars' home she began calling all strange men that. She'd clutch their arms and say "Are you Irving? Were we married?" Poor Norma. Sic transit gloria mundi, etc.

Link to comment

Shearer's career fascinates me. I'm hard-pressed to name another star who was so big for so long but who is now so completely forgotten. Shearer's creative peak was probably in the period between the end of the silents in 1929 and the imposition of the Hayes Code in 1934. Unfortunately for her, though, those pre-Code films were out of the public eye for a LONG time so most people never knew about them (or her work in them.) Also, those early talkies seem very primitive today even in comparison to films from later in the 1930s. Tough to sell modern audiences on those. (I like them, though.) I wonder if doing Now, Voyager and Mrs. Miniver would have helped her maintain her fame over the long-term. (Maybe not -- Greer Garson is mostly forgotten today except for her infamous Oscar speech.)

Crawford, by contrast, made four films that are still (to varying degrees) part of the culture -- Grand Hotel, The Women (w/ Shearer), Mildred Pierce, and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?. (Five if you count Mommie Dearest.)

Link to comment
Crawford, by contrast, made four films that are still (to varying degrees) part of the culture -- Grand Hotel, The Women (w/ Shearer), Mildred Pierce, and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?. (Five if you count Mommie Dearest.)

Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz) and Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray) are probably the two strongest and strongestly identified with Crawford. She worked a lot through the fifies - Best of Everything, Sudden Fear, The Damned Don't Cry and a General Electric Theater directed by John Brahm. And her post Hush Hush image was softened up a bit when she became head of Pepsi Cola, and its spokesperson (in the great Skidmore Owings and Merrill Pepsico building at 59th & Park Ave, always much cooler than Lever House!).

I think Gavin Lambert has a story in "Slide Area" that anticipates "Mommie Dearest." Lambert also wrote a biography of Norma Shearer, and Fitzgerald is supposed to have written "Tender is the Night" and "Crazy Sunday" with her in mind, not a small thing.

Link to comment

Crawford made some better movies and was arguably a better actor but I'm still inclined to see Mommie Dearest' and the wire hangers as the linchpin of her posthumous celebrity. (I was standing in line at a repertory theater not long ago and heard a woman explaining to a younger woman I assume was her daugher who Katharine Hepburn was, but if she'd seen Mommie Dearest she would have heard of Crawford.)

Fitzgerald also based "The Last Tycoon" on Thalberg, Shearer's husband, a highly romanticized portrait.

Unfortunately for her, though, those pre-Code films were out of the public eye for a LONG time so most people never knew about them (or her work in them.) Also, those early talkies seem very primitive today even in comparison to films from later in the 1930s. Tough to sell modern audiences on those. (I like them, though.) I wonder if doing Now, Voyager and Mrs. Miniver would have helped her maintain her fame over the long-term. (Maybe not -- Greer Garson is mostly forgotten today except for her infamous Oscar speech.)

I think Shearer is fun and sexy in those early talkies, and she's actually not bad in "Private Lives" with Robert Montgomery. What's really hurt her reputation is that her big prestige vehicles from the mid thirties on haven't worn well and she's not good in many of them. I happen to think she's perfect for Mary in "The Women" and her Marie Antoinette gets better as it goes along but some of those other performances are indefensible, and they would be better movies if she was better in them.

Both Now, Voyager and Mrs. Miniver would have helped Shearer keep her career alive in the short term. As she admitted, she made some bad choices. But she had also been a star for a very long time and was already in her forties, retirement age for many female stars. But as you say miliosr, she was big for a long time, only dropping in popularity when she began working less, and she had huge prestige value as well.

Link to comment

Crawford made some better movies and was arguably a better actor but I'm still inclined to see Mommie Dearest' and the wire hangers as the linchpin of her posthumous celebrity. (I was standing in line at a repertory theater not long ago and heard a woman explaining to a younger woman I assume was her daugher who Katharine Hepburn was, but if she'd seen Mommie Dearest she would have heard of Crawford.)

Actually, we are in complete agreement on this point. Christina Crawford's book left her mother forever embedded in pop culture. While Crawford's carefully crafted image took a big hit in the short term because of the book and the subsequent movie, the book and the movie also kept her in the public eye long enough so that younger generations could seek out her work and separate the work from Crawford's private life. (And I am no apologist for Joan Crawford. Even some of her closest friends, many of whom had no great liking for Christina, admitted that Crawford was ill-suited to being a parent.)

What's really hurt her reputation is that her big prestige vehicles from the mid thirties on haven't worn well and she's not good in many of them. I happen to think she's perfect for Mary in "The Women" and her Marie Antoinette gets better as it goes along but some of those other performances are indefensible, and they would be better movies if she was better in them.

Agreed. Many of those "high-toned" M-G-M movies of the mid-to-late 30s have aged very badly. Garbo could usually sail above the blowsy, overblown style but many of the others weren't so fortunate.

Link to comment
(And I am no apologist for Joan Crawford. Even some of her closest friends, many of whom had no great liking for Christina, admitted that Crawford was ill-suited to being a parent.)

She certainly wasn't. I guess it should be noted in her defense that her twins, Cathy and Cindy, always defended her. (There was a similar split in Bing Crosby's family; the sons of his marriage with Dixie had a very hard time and wrote about it, while the children of his last marriage had a completely different experience of Crosby as a father.)

I think Gavin Lambert has a story in "Slide Area" that anticipates "Mommie Dearest." Lambert also wrote a biography of Norma Shearer

I hadn't heard about "Slide Area," thanks. I did read "Inside Daisy Clover" (now there's a strange movie) and the Shearer bio, which is good.

Link to comment
(And I am no apologist for Joan Crawford. Even some of her closest friends, many of whom had no great liking for Christina, admitted that Crawford was ill-suited to being a parent.)

She certainly wasn't. I guess it should be noted in her defense that her twins, Cathy and Cindy, always defended her.

I've never thought that Christina's claims and the twins' counter-claims were as contradictory as they appear at first glance. Seven years passed between Joan adopting Christina and Joan adopting the twins. So, the worst of the abuse could have happened and the twins were just too young to notice it.

(There was a similar split in Bing Crosby's family; the sons of his marriage with Dixie had a very hard time and wrote about it, while the children of his last marriage had a completely different experience of Crosby as a father.)

The story of Bing Crosby and the children from his first marriage is a sad, sad story. Two of the four brothers killed themselves and the other two led somewhat troubled lives.
Link to comment

It's hard to know what's going on here, especially when the family history appears to be rather complicated. The story does do a good job of representing different points of view, but it doesn't really explain how the son took control of her money. Did she sign off on the trust deal or did the son have power of attorney? If she's mentally fit, why can't she do whatever she wants with her money, her apartment, her life? That includes arranging a marriage with somebody she finds companionable who will keep her company in her great old age. It's not as if that's anything new under the sun (though the sexes are usually reversed).

For a happier story about Celeste Holm and her apartment, there this article. I'm glad somebody gets to live like that.

Anthony

Link to comment
It's hard to know what's going on here, especially when the family history appears to be rather complicated. The story does do a good job of representing different points of view, but it doesn't really explain how the son took control of her money. Did she sign off on the trust deal or did the son have power of attorney?

Ms. Holm had to have signed off on the at the time, although it's not totally clear how that happened. My speculation based on what is in the article is that she signed off on the limited partnerships with her son as the general partner or manager, and then he moved them into the trust but that is onlyl speculation. I will say that trusts are not uncommon at all in families where there are significant assets at stake, especially when someone's mental and/or physical faculties are starting to fail, and in fairness to the sons and the attorneys, the $300,000 a year annual allowance hardly sounds like destitution to Ms. Holm.

If she's mentally fit, why can't she do whatever she wants with her money, her apartment, her life? That includes arranging a marriage with somebody she finds companionable who will keep her company in her great old age. It's not as if that's anything new under the sun (though the sexes are usually reversed).

I think the issue is that Ms. Holm is clearly not mentally fit at this point, and probably was not totally fit when the legal battles began if you follow the timeline described in the article. From personal experience, I can tell you that trying to move any significant assets for a family member can be extremely challenging once they are considered mentally incompetent, and I can only imagine how difficult it would be if the family is not in agreement. For Ms. Holm and her husband to try to break the trust when she is clearly a state of dementia, well... of course, it was going to be costly in more ways than one.

Link to comment
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...