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Film and Entertainment Memorabilia
1 PM, May 30, 2007
Sale 1854

"Pink Dress" from Breakfast at Tiffany's

Lot 228, pink dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," left, Lot 227, large poster for the movie, right

By Michele Leight

This auction of Film and Entertainment Memorabilia at Christie's May 30, 2007 includes a pink dress worn by Audrey Hepburn from "Breakfast at Tiffanys" and costumes worn by Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Barbara Streisand and other legendary Stars as well as iconic photographs of Rudolph Valentino, Marilyn Monroe, props and artifacts from Laurel and Hardy and Star Trek, and other memorabilia from the estates of Stan Laurel and Clark Gable.

Leading the sale will be a pink dress worn, Lot 228, by Audrey Hepburn in Blake Edward's 1961 adaptation of Truman Capote's best selling novel "Breakfast at Tiffany's," which has become a much loved classic known to millions of movie fans across the world. The dress is estimated at $20,000-$30,000. It sold for $192,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

In 2006, Christie's South Kensington auctioned a full-length black column dress from "Breakfast at Tiffany's," which set a record for a costume made for a movie when it sold for $932,738. The haute couture French designer Hubert de Givenchy donated the dress to a charity called "City of Joy Aid," founded by best selling author Dominique Lapierre and his wife after they met Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn were lifelong friends. The proceeds of the sale of the dress will be used to bring hope to the lives of hundreds of poor and marginalized children at risk through educational centers in West Bengal. Audrey Hepburn was a high profile ambassador for UNICEF, and she supported many causes that benefited children.

The striking pink dress from the Collection of Paramount Pictures is the only one from the movie that was not designed by Givenchy - it does not bear the label of any designer, which only adds to its mystery. It is memorable for Holly Golightly's "meltdown" in the scene when she learns of her beloved brother Fred's death in a telegram. Her chic facade is abandoned as she demolishes objects in the living room and bedroom, while her dashing fiancée looks on helplessly. She finally collapses on her bed fully dressed in the beautiful pink evening dress as feathers rain down from the pillows she had thrown around in her grief. Hepburn's impassioned and endearing role as a fantasy prone Holly Golightly earned her an Oscar nomination. The pink evening dress is bound to generate a great deal of interest and is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

Audrey Hepburn appears again in the well-known poster, Lot 229, for "My Fair Lady," released in 1964 and directed by Cecil B. DeMille (estimate $500 to $600), and a witty Beaton sketch in graphite on paper, Lot 230, entitled "Liza After Delacroix," signed and titled (estimate $1,500 to $2,500). Lot 229 sold for $960 and Lot 230 failed to sell. Lot 227 is a marvellous "Breakfast at Tiffanys" poster of Hepburn with long cigarette holder, outre "up-do" with diamante pin, and "No Name" cat peering out from behind her neck is estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $3,600.

Many wonderful leading lady outfits - and leading male attire - are included in Christie's sale, as well as a large selection of "Star Trek" costumes, masks, props and sketches that look uncannily like the forerunners of Star Wars. Star Trek was serialized for TV over a period of several years, and gained a cult following within the US, and with a passion in Europe, where thousands eagerly watched the escapades of Leonard Nimoy as "Dr. Spock," with those beguiling pointed ears, and Captian Kirk and his crew on the Starfleet Enterprise.

Lot 279, six Starfleet costumes, above, Lot 282, Klingon space station model, below

In time, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Obi One Kanobi came along, changing the scope of blockbuster space age movies forever, adding spectacular special effects. But the connection between Star Trek and Star Wars was keenly felt, and was surprisingly moving in a gallery crammed with iconic costumes and props, possibly because it was the first space age drama that caught the imagination of the public. Star Trek seems innocent now compared with advances in the sci fi genre today. But everything begins somewhere, and Star Trek still holds up well. The costumes, props and masks are estimated between $500 to $12,000, with 6 original Starfleet Enterprise uniforms, Lot 279, offered at $2,500 to $3,500. They will most likely go for more. It sold for $8,400. Lot 282 is a Klingon space station model that has an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. It sold for $6,600.

Lady Hamilton dress

Lot 189, dress for Vivien Leigh in "Lady Hamilton"

Switching centuries, the gorgeous black velvet gown displayed at the entrance to the preview, Lot 189, was worn by Vivien Leigh as Lady Hamilton in Alexander Korda's film "That Hamilton Woman," which was a great favorite of Winston Churchill. Released in 1941, it co-starred Vivien Leigh and her new husband, Laurence Olivier. Both had to obtain divorces to marry.

Hard on the heels of her Oscar for her performance as Scarlett O'Hara, from "Gone With the Wind," (1939), this role continued Vivien Leigh's tradition of portraying unconventional, strong-willed women. Emma Hamilton was known for her extraordinary beauty, and as a great performer, but most famously for garnering the affections of a great British hero, Admiral Lord Nelson. There is a portrait of her at The Frick Museum in New York, painted by George Romney, which shows how mesmerizing she was. Henry Clay Frick awoke to this portrait every day, because it was one of his favorites.

Vivien Leigh as Lady Hamilton

Photograph of Vivien Leigh as Lady Hamilton

Lady Hamilton was born Emma Hart, not of noble birth, but the daughter of a weaver. Her beauty and talent led her to marry well - Lord Hamilton was titled and an ambassador. Emma, throwing caution to the wind for love, risked security and respectability by having a scandalous affair with Lord Nelson, who was also married, and their passionate union bore them a child, which cemented Emma's fate as a fallen woman. Nelson defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar, but was fatally wounded. Despite his dying wish that his beloved Emma be taken care of by the government - which was not a lot to ask in return for defeating England's greatest foe - his wishes were ignored. Emma, Lady Hamilton, died in abject poverty in France. The film was a great success and Leigh was perfectly suited for the role. Churchill loved the Oliviers, had them to dinner regularly, and was especially admiring of Vivien Leigh.

There was more than a steely dose of Scarlett O'Hara in Vivien Leigh, who was born in Darjeeling, then in British India, the daughter of a British cavalry officer and a mother who was reputedly either parsee or Armenian. Vivien Leigh's life followed a similar pattern of ups and downs as Lady Hamilton. She suffered from bipolar disorder throughout her adult life, and from frail health, eventually dying of tuberculosis. Today, medical advances would have stabilized her mood swings, and TB is curable. Her marriage to Olivier, the love of her life, ended in divorce.

The beautiful costume in this sale is from Vivien Leigh's golden days, where she is preserved forever in celluloid, which is how we will always remember her. That is the beauty of film. The dress, which is trimmed in lace and embroidered with bugle beads, is to be sold with the photograph, and is estimated at $1,500 to $2,500. It sold for $7,800.

Raintree County dress

Lot 221, dress for Elizabeth Taylor in "Raintree County"

Lot 221 is Elizabeth Taylor's romantic full length "Southern Belle" gown from "Raintree County," (1957), in which she starred as Susannah Drake opposite her close friend Montgomery Clift, is another example of exquisite handiwork, embroidered all over with exquisite violet flower heads that echoed the color of Liz Taylor's famous violet-blue eyes, the likes of which have never since appeared on a movie screen.

Walter Plunkett sketch

Lot 221, sketch of dress by Walter Plunkett

In an interview for Turner Classic Movies honoring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor said "Raintree County" was her first "grown up" role, where she was not acting with children or horses. She off-handedly described herself as "this Hollywood thing," awestruck by the brilliant, professionally trained, charismatic New York "stage" actor Montgomery Clift. The gown, which has an estimate of $1,500 to $2,500, is accompanied by a winsome sketch by Walter Plunkett, who received an Oscar nomination for costume design, as did Elizabeth Taylor for best actress. Even though she dismissed herself as not being in the same league as stage actors like Clift, Elizabeth Taylor is arguably one of the greatest screen presences of all time, beginning with her childhood role as "National Velvet." The lot sold for $7,800.

Funny Girl dress

Lot 233, dress for Barbra Streisland in "Funny Girl"

Lot 233 is a striking orange two-piece dress worn by Barbara Streisand in her wonderful portrayal of Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl," in the scene when she receives a note and flowers from Nick Arnstein, played by Omar Shariff. The lot also has another dress from the same movie and an estimate of $2,500 to $3,500. It sold for $33,600.

Whether they were period gowns or modern suits, there were no comprises in quality in these "made for the movies" Hollywood costumes, and nothing was spared in their creation. It was mind numbing to contemplate the sheer brilliance and artistry of the handiwork involved. A comprehensive story, "Movie Star Style," about many more of the wonderful costumes featured in this sale - including those worn by Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo, Jean Simmons, Betty Grable, the famous Ziegfield girls, among others - will soon be featured in the "Style" section of this website. Additional male costumes will also be featured.

Representing the male contingent are a pair of karate slippers, Lot 245, worn by Bruce Lee in "Enter the Dragon," (1973), a cult film that launched an avalanche of kung fu and karate movies that appeal to a global audience. The slippers have an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. They sold for $3,840. The sale also features Al Pacino's navy blue suit from "The Godfather," which has an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000, a robe worn by Marlon Brando, which has an estimate of $500 to $700.

Stan Laurel trunks

Lot 66, Stan Laurel trunks

Fans of the legendary comedy team "Laurel and Hardy" will have the rare opportunity to acquire 30 lots from the Estate of Stan Laurel, including his signature bowler hat ($10,000 to $15,000), bow ties ($800 to $1,200), a black leather binder with ideas for gags ($2,000 to $3,000) and two wonderful wardrobe cases, Lot 66, with Stan Laurel's name painted on the exterior, and smothered with Cunard Line labels and stickers from the hotels where the famous duo stayed while on tour: Royal Crescent Hotel, Brighton; Midland Hotel, Belfast; Park Hotel, Cardiff; and Golf Hotel, St. Raphael. The trunks are estimated at $1,500 to $2,500. It sold for $6,600.

Valentino by Shirley Blaine

Lot 35, "Rudolph Valentino" by Shirley Blaine

Romance abounds in black and white and sepia toned photographs of legendary stars of the silver screen, including show stoppers of Rudolph Valentino from the estate of his first wife Jean Acker, circa 1919 taken by Shirley Blaine, L.A. Lot 35, shown above, is estimated between $2,000 to $3,000. It sold for $5,040. Valentino's smoldering good looks were matched by a passionate nature, illustrated in the tender inscriptions on his photographs to Acker: "To a young, adored woman. Never forget who loves you like mad." Valentino clearly had all the necessary "heart throb" qualifications that propelled thousands of women into movie theatres to see him as "Son of Sheik," among other glamorous roles.

The 1920s was the era of silent films, when the majority of women were still traditional housewives, providing ample opportunities to attend movies in the afternoon, from which the term "matinee idol," emerged. Valentino was the first of what would become a steady stream of Hollywood "hunks," many of them featured in photographs in this sale. Illustrated below is Lot 174, a photograph of "the king of cool," Steve McQueen, (1956), taken by Roy Schatt, estimated at $1,000 to $1,500. It sold for $960.

Steve McQueen by Roy Schatt

Lot 174, "Steve McQueen," by Roy Schatt

A recently discovered archive of unseen photographs of Hollywood icons like James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jane Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe were taken by the Los Angeles photographer Frank Worth, and were based on his personal acquaintance with them. Worth worked in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s, and his unwillingness to cash in on his celebrity photographs displayed a gallantry and loyalty totally absent from papparazzi today.

Amazingly, Worth shared only a few of his photographs with the public during his lifetime. When he died in 2000, his family found a large collection of wonderful photographs of some of Hollywood's greatest screen idols. Two of the most memorable are of Liz Taylor, Lot 154, and James Dean, Lot 156, on the set, and during filming, of "Giant." This was Dean's last film before his death in a car crash right after he completed "Giant." This is the first time any of the photos have been offered at auction. Estimates for the Worth photographs are between $1,000 to $1,500, but should go for more. Lot 154 sold for $3,120.

"Marilyn in White"

Lot 142, "Marilyn in White" by Bernard of Hollywood

Among other sizzling photographs of Marilyn Monroe in the famously revealing white dress which billowed up on a gust of air from a vent in the sidewalk, Bernard of Hollywood's "Marilyn in White," Lot 142, (estimate $8,000 to $12,000), which was singled out in 1999 by the Museum of Modern Art as the photographic "Symbol of the Century" in their "Fame After Photography" Exhibition. The International Center of Photography also chose this exuberant photograph of Marilyn for their documentary "20 Unforgettable Photographs of the Century." These are impressive accolades from world famous institutions, but then Marilyn had awesome star power and did not hesitate to flaunt it. She loved her adoring public, and it shows in this stellar image, which looks as if it was staged, but in fact was totally spontaneous. A true professional, Monroe maximized on the sensation her swirling dress caused. The lot sold for $20,400.

There are two wistful photographs by Sanford Roth of James Dean playing the bongos, Lot 159, in between filming on the set of "Giant," (1955). Dean was a sensitive soul who loved the arts, and was an artist himself. By the end of the making of this iconic film, Dean would have run out of time, which makes these spontaneously captured images all the more moving. The photographs are estimated at $1,500 to $2,500. The lot failed to sell.

Most people think of Clark Gable as the swashbuckling Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind," but there was another side to him that is revealed in a U.S. Army Air Corps examination paper circa 1941, Lot 112, in which he scored an impressive 98 ½, (estimated at $700-900), and a U.S. Air Force World War II era brown leather flight jacket, Lot 113, (estimated at $2,000 to $3,000), with a name tag Clark Gable, and a later addition 303rd Bomb Group Association, accompanied by a candid photograph of him, Lot 114, wearing a similar jacket in England during the war. Gable was devastatingly handsome whatever he wore. The "spit and polish" grooming of his military career clung to him even when he was attired as a horse rustler in jeans and cowboy hat in "The Misfits," also starring Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift and a spectacular Eli Wallach. Lot 113 sold for $5,740 and Lot 114 sold for $1,440.

Clark Gable by Russell Ball

Lot 111, "Clark Gable" photograph by Russell Ball

A sepia portrait photograph of Gable, Lot 111, taken by Russell Ball, circa 1930s, is graciously inscribed in black ink: "To Jim, Many thanks for helping make all this possible, Sincerely, Clark." There is also a rare contract, Lot 110, for Clark Gable's first speaking role as Rance Brett in "The Painted Desert," (1931), which is signed by him in black ink, estimated at $2,000 to $3,000. The bomber jacket and contract are from the estate of Clark Gable. The lot sold for $5,400.

poster for "The Cactus Kid"

Lot 30, poster for "The Cactus Kid" with Mickey Mouse

This sale also features a Mickey Mouse poster by Walt Disney, Lot 30, "The Cactus Kid," dated 1930, estimated $10,000-$15,000, a rare drawing in black ink of Mickey Mouse, Lot 31, by Walt Disney estimated at $8,000 to $12,000. A selection of original animation art from Disney studios features like "Donald Duck With Paintbrush," Lot 8, estimated at $1,500 to $2,500, " and "Jiminy Cricket and an Elephant," Lot 6, (estimate $1,000 to $1,500), amongst many others ranging in price from $400 to $12,000. Lot 30 sold for $7,200. Lot 31 sold for $28,800. Lot 8 sold for $2,160.

"2001" poster

Lot 242, poster for "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Two posters will capture the interest of movie buffs, both from cult films by Stanley Kubrick that have stood the test of time: "Dr. Strangelove," (1964), with art by Tom Ungerer, is Lot 241, which has an estimate of $600 to $800; and Lot 242 is "2001: A Space Odyssey," (1968), which has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. The catalogue notes that this 2001 poster was originally printed in small numbers, only to be pasted on walls across New York City, consequently few have survived. Lot 241 sold for $480. Lot 242 sold for $7,200.

autographed copy of "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Lot 168, autographed copy of "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Among other notable Marlon Brando memorablia and photographs is Lot 168, a copy of Tennessee Williams's book, "A Streetcar Named Desire," which is signed by 13 actors and actresses of the original Broadway production, including Marlon Brando, who added "Please vote for Wallace" near his name. Other names include Kim Hunter, Karl Malden and Jessica Tandy. The lot hs an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. It sold for $2,640.

Lot 134 is Marilyn Monroe's 1962 script for "Something's Gotta Give," annotated by her. This was her last film but was never completed due to her untimely and tragic death. It is estimated at $12,000 to $16,000. It sold for $19,200.

A full review of "made for the movies" costumes featured in this sale, showing the incredible attention to detail lavished on them, will soon be featured in "Movie Star Style," in the "Style" section on this website.

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