Academy Museum Gives Debbie Reynolds Her Due as a Costume ConservatorBreaking News
tags: museums, film, PRESERVATION, popular culture, material culture, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and sciences, entertainment
For decades, Debbie Reynolds begged Hollywood to help her preserve and exhibit her vast collection of golden age costumes. “These pieces are cultural touchstones that still carry the energy of the stars who performed in them,” she once said, referring to legends like Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland. “There is magic in every thread, button and bow.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences turned her down — five times. Reynolds quoted an uninterested David Geffen in her 2013 memoir as once saying, “Why don’t you just sell that stuff?”
In debt, she finally had no other choice, auctioning Marilyn Monroe’s ivory-pleated halter dress that blew upward in “The Seven Year Itch” for $4.6 million and Audrey Hepburn’s lace Royal Ascot number from “My Fair Lady” for $3.7 million — prices that shocked moviedom’s aristocracy and proved Reynolds had been right. Also sold, in some cases to anonymous overseas collectors, were Charlton Heston’s “Ben-Hur” tunic and cape, the acoustic guitar Julie Andrews strummed in “The Sound of Music” and every hat that Vivien Leigh flaunted in “Gone With the Wind.”
Hollywood didn’t give a damn.
Now, four years after she died at 84, there has been a plot twist in the Debbie Reynolds costume collection saga, one that she would undoubtedly find both maddening and satisfying: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, set to open on April 30 and costing $482 million, finds itself caring about her collection — at least the part that is left, which includes iconic costumes she wore in movies like “Singin’ in the Rain.” Also remaining are screen garments created for Mary Pickford, Deborah Kerr and Cyd Charisse, as well as rare memorabilia from classics like “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Maltese Falcon.”