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Debbie Reynolds’ Auctions Hollywood Memorabilia

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Saturday May 10, 2014

Calling all film buffs! This month is your last chance to get you hands on Dorothy's ruby slippers, Marilyn's pink dress, Charlie Chaplin's bowler and a slew of other legendary Hollywood memorabilia.

On May 17 and 18, legendary screen actress Debbie Reynolds will hold the third and final auction of her impressive catalog of Hollywood memorabilia, featuring treasures from virtually every discipline in movie making, including hundreds of costumes worn by such stars as Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Mae West, Barbara Stanwyck and Fred Astaire.

Profiles in History -- the world's largest auctioneer of Hollywood memorabilia -- is thrilled to produce the event, as the first two auctions generated a world record of $25 million, a significant return on the years Reynolds devoted to building her collection.

EDGE spoke with the inimitable Reynolds as she prepared for this auction, and found out how she first began collecting, what items she chooses to purchase, and which pieces she has decided to keep for herself.

EDGE: I read that you first began collecting in 1970. How did you first become interested in collecting Hollywood memorabilia, and what was the first piece of ephemera that you secured?

REYNOLDS: I have been in the motion picture business since 1948, since I won a contest in Burbank and talent scouts there took me to MGM and got me under contract. MGM was like my home; I was there for 17 years. So when the executives decided to sell the entire property, including four residence lots where they had shot "Gone With the Wind," it was all very sentimental to me.

When I heard there was to be an auction, I took out all of my savings -- over a million dollars -- and attended with a set decorator, Jerry. He guided me through it for three weeks, separating the junk from the real antiques, and I bought them all. I stored them all at my very large house in Beverly Hills. I remember buying Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, although I didn’t know what I was going to do with them.

EDGE: What were some of the prizes you sold?

REYNOLDS: I had two other auctions, so I sold many beautiful things. I set records for the prices, too. I never had a history to look at as an example of what things were worth, either.

Who knew that I would get $5 million for Marilyn Monroe’s dress?

EDGE: I’m sure everyone is crazy about things like Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, but what is the piece that you value most?

REYNOLDS: I had the largest collection in world, so it’s difficult to choose just one. But one thing I will always keep is the Maltese Falcon. It is still with me, and I’m not selling him. He’s on the mantle right now, being quiet.

Or Orson Welles mink coat from "Citizen Kane." Why did I keep that -- it’s not my size! I just loved the idea of having Orson Welles’ coat.

I also loved Mary Pickford’s curls, loved that she kept them and had them in her home. I knew her, and when she died, I went to her auction. She had a big barn full of memorabilia, and I bought most of it. Now I’m giving it up.

EDGE: You started this three-part auction in 2011; does this final auction signal the end for your collecting days?

REYNOLDS: I don’t know if I can control myself of not. I think if I see something worthwhile and precious, I’ll buy it. I am still working and making my own money, and I don’t have a husband right now, so there’s no one to steal it. I’m obviously a woman with no good taste as far as men are concerned. Unsinkable is sinkable in that case. I could have shopped for years more if I’d have had the money my ex-husbands gambled away.

EDGE: Your more recent work includes a turn as Liberace’s mother in "Behind the Candelabra" last year. How was it to revisit Liberace’s legacy and those halcyon days?

REYNOLDS: I thought it was fun, then terribly sad. They did not handle his estate well, and made a motion picture about his sexual habits. He was a remarkable, brilliant musician, a wonderful human being, and a great friend. We had great fun together. We never dwelled on the fact that he was gay and I’m not gay; we were like the odd couple.

So although I didn’t expect the movie to turn out that way, I wanted to play the mother, because I had met her and knew I could do it. I never brag about my performances, but I think Lee would have liked it.

EDGE: Can fans look forward to seeing you in any new projects?

REYNOLDS: I am just continuing to be a variety performer, working Vegas and Reno, but maybe just for a year; not too much longer. Right now, I’m focusing on my auction. As for me, I try to never forget where I came from. Showbiz gave me a lot, and now I am just trying to give something back.

For more info on Debbie Reynolds - The Auction Finale, visit or

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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