Largest Movie Memorabilia Collection to be Auctioned

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(Judy Garland's "Dorothy" dress from The Wizard of Oz, which will be auctioned off soon; Images: Wikipedia)

The world's largest collection of movie costumes, props and other Hollywood memorabilia is being auctioned off in a series of sales beginning June 18, according to the dealer Profiles in History. The first previews occur this weekend at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.

The collection was amassed over the years by actress Debbie Reynolds.

"I heard the news that MGM was going to sell their inventory of costumes and props," says Reynolds in a press release, on how she started collecting. "I went everyday for weeks and focused on purchasing the costumes and props of Academy Award winning films. It soon turned into an obsession. Until now! I've concluded that my dream of having a museum cannot be fulfilled, so I have decided to share my fabulous collection with other collectors."

The collection includes some of the most iconic items in motion picture history, such as costumes and props from Academy Award winning films like "Gone With the Wind," "Ben Hur," "My Fair Lady," "The Sound of Music" and "Casablanca."

Garments designed by Travilla, Travis Banton and Edith Head — some of the industry's most renowned costume designers — were worn by film icons Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Charlton Heston, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Gene Kelly, Richard Burton and more.

The massive "Debbie Reynolds Collection" will be auctioned off in two separate series. The entire collection contains over 3,500 costumes, 20,000 original photographs, several thousand original movie posters, original costume sketches and hundreds of key props from film history.

Reynolds and Profiles in History highlight the following, which will be featured in the June series:

1. "Gone With the Wind" (MGM, 1939) the famous green-velvet "drapery" dress hat with bird adornment, worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’ Hara.

2. "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (20th Century-Fox, 1953) Marilyn Monroe costume worn as Lorelei Lee: signature red sequin dress from "Just Two Little Girls from Little Rock" opening musical number, designed by Travilla.

(Monroe's famed "subway" dress from another movie, "The Seven-Year Itch," is also included in the auction, with an estimated value of 1 to 2 million dollars.)

3. "The Sound of Music" (20th Century-Fox, 1965) Julie Andrews' brown jumper and blouse with original guitar, from "Do-Re-Mi."

4. Charlie Chaplin Tramp character signature bowler top hat.

5. "The Wizard of Oz" (MGM, 1939) Judy Garland's  "Dorothy" original blue and white gingham test dress with puff-sleeved white blouse from the first two weeks of filming, designed by Adrian, plus the matching fabled ruby slippers in the “Arabian test” pattern.

6. "Ben-Hur" (MGM, 1959) Charlton Heston signature tunic, robe, and accessories for the grand procession into Rome.

7. "Mary of Scotland" (RKO, 1934) Katharine Hepburn key red velvet and gold trimmed gown designed by Walter Plunkett.

8. "My Fair Lady" (Warner Bros., 1964) Audrey Hepburn "Eliza Doolittle" signature ivory ribbon embroidery lace Ascot dress and hat designed by Cecil Beaton; Hepburn’s single most recognizable and remarkable outfit from any of her films.

9. "Singin' in the Rain" (MGM, 1952) Gene Kelly herringbone wool 3-piece suit by Walter Plunkett from "I'm Singin' in the Rain" iconic musical number.

10. "There's No Business Like Show Business" (20th Century-Fox, 1954) Marilyn Monroe black, white and pink, tropical-print “Heat wave” dress and hat by Travilla.

11. "Blood & Sand" (Paramount, 1922) Rudolph Valentino suit of lights matador costume, the most iconic wardrobe from any of his films; designed by Travis Banton.

(An early portrait of Rudolph Valentino)

12. "Cleopatra" (Paramount, 1934) Claudette Colbert signature royal boudoir gown of gold lamé and marquis-emerald trim, designed by Travis Banton.

13. "River of No Return" (20th Century-Fox, 1954) Marilyn Monroe saloon girl costume of beaded yellow charmeuse with red scroll trim designed by Travilla, complete with all the accessories.

14. "To Catch a Thief" (Paramount, 1955) Grace Kelly and Cary Grant key costumes by Edith Head, from the romantic scenic drive in a convertible overlooking Cannes.

15. "Taming of the Shrew" (United Artists, 1929) Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Mary Pickford elaborate court costumes, hers is a peach silk velvet Empire gown with silver lace and bullion decoration by Irene Sharaff, and his is a black and gold tunic with gold lamé shirt and decorated cuffs, together with matching hat and yellow-lined boots.

Part two of the Hollywood memorabilia auction series will take place in December. If you enjoy classic films, I highly recommend that you download the free auction catalog PDF file at this page. It's a veritable treasure trove of memorable costumes and moments from film history and the catalog reads like a book.

Here, Reynolds shows off the rare "Wizard of Oz" items included in the collection:

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