Not just some master of ceremonies, Valentino was both the star and the prize of this contest: “The Most Beautiful Woman In America May be the Leading Lady of Valentino’s Next Picture.”
When the silent film star walked out of his Famous Players-Lasky (FP-L) contract in 1923, the studio suspended him without pay and won an injunction that prevented him from working for another studio, leaving the decadent dandy desperate for money. In Rudolph Valentino & the Mineralava Tour of 1923, Edward Lorusso explains:
Desperate for money, Valentino and Rambova decided to create a dance act and tour the country for Mineralava Beauty Clay cosmetics. Starting in New York City’s Century Theatre at a benefit for the Actors Fund on a bill with Will Rogers and Jeanne Eagels, the couple caused a sensation and received 20 curtain calls. Valentino was stampeded by 300 fans as he left the theater. A Boston headline claimed “10,000 Girls Mob World’s Greatest Kisser.” The mobs became so predictable that Valentino and Rambova often escaped theaters over rooftops. The couple performed in 88 cities in the United States and Canada during a grueling 17-week tour. The hysteria followed them wherever they performed.
The dance tour garnered a tremendous amount of publicity and earned the couple a big weekly salary plus a percentage of the gate. They broke house records in several theaters. But while Valentino was mobbed by hordes of fans in every city, local newspaper coverage often sniped at his romantic movie image and professional dancing as being “unmanly.” Plus, Valentino was hawking beauty products that he claimed to use himself.
Following the example of dance idols Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis, the Valentinos created exotic dances and sumptuous costumes to the accompaniment of their own traveling orchestra. They performed a number of dances, but the tango routines were the ones that always brought down the house.
The beauty contest (the Miss America contest started in 1921) was another publicity angle of the tour. Mineralava sponsored a contest in each of the tour’s 88 cities and Valentino “judged” all the contestants. Then all 88 beauties descended on New York City, where they were paraded up Fifth Avenue to the Madison Square Garden. A young David O. Selznick made a short film of the contest called Rudolph Valentino and His 88 American Beauties; the film survives and is a fascinating glimpse at a “natural” Rudolph Valentino as well as the beauty contest styles of the day. Selznick shows the terrifying hordes of people who mobbed the streets outside Madison Square Garden, hoping for a glimpse of Valentino. Inside the Garden, the 88 girls come out onto a stage that is surrounded by crowds. Each girl (most with bobbed hair and bee-stung lips) parades in a gown and sash proclaiming her city and carrying (for some unknown reason) a ribboned Bo-Peep staff.
Along with being a great advertising piece, I find this vintage booklet to be a lovely little piece of women’s history, combining the power of the women as consumers with their status as prey for marketers. Along with the testimonials from “women in American Homes,” collectors of silent film will also enjoy all the celebrity endorsements from silent film stars such as Nazimova, Mae Murray, Marion Davies, and Marie Prevost.
Along with trophies, Mineralava gave out boudoir dolls of Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova to contest winners.
As fabulous as this pageant was for Valentino (it did get him a better contract — if also assisting in the “Pink Powder Puff” slur) and, one presumes, Scott’s Mineralava Beauty Clay, at the time, the story doesn’t really end well… Valentino’s life lasted just a few more years and Mineralava seems only a footnote in the life of Valentino.
Images of the 1923 Mineralava Beauty Pageant booklet, measuring 5 1/2 by 8 inches, via Grapefruit Moon Gallery.
Among the over 800 items of Hollywood memorabilia and historic Americana, the Houston tems up for sale include a pair of earrings and a brown satin vest worn by Whitney in The Bodyguard (1992) as well as a black velvet dress owned by the legendary performer.
Celebrity auctioneer Darren Julien said Sunday the pieces and other Houston items became available after the singer’s unexpected death on Feb. 11 and will be included among a long-planned sale of Hollywood memorabilia such as Charlie Chaplin’s cane, Clark Gable’s jacket from “Gone With the Wind” and Charlton Heston’s staff from “The Ten Commandments.”
Julien said celebrity collectibles often become available after their namesakes die.
“It proves a point that these items, they’re an investment,” Julien said. “You buy items just like a stock. Buy at the right time and sell at the right time, and they just increase in value.”
But could it be too soon to profit from Houston’s passing? She was just buried on Saturday.
“It’s a celebration of her life,” Julien said. “If you hide these things in fear that you’re going to offend someone — her life is to be celebrated. These items are historic now that she passed. They become a part of history. They should be in museums. She’s lived a life and had a career that nobody else has ever had.”
Houston is “someone who’s going to maintain a collectability,” he said. “For people who are fans of Whitney Houston and never would have had a chance to meet her and never got to talk to her, these are items that literally touched a part of her life. They are a way to relate to her or be a part of her life without having known her.”
Accumulating these coveted treasures is often a twofold endeavor; obtaining tangible nostalgia and making a sound investment choice. Acquiring such a collection gives buyers the opportunity to gain intimacy with fond memories anchored in the property. The other reason is based on the steadily increasing prices, which has been recently noted as a solid asset for Wall Street investment bankers and executives around the globe.
If there is any such thing as a cultural rule about the length of time which ought to pass before we profit by selling off items connected to a recently deceased celebrity, it is far less a matter of morbidity and more a matter of our capitalistic nature. The market dictates that we bid as high as our emotions run; and emotions run pretty high when there’s a death.
As my friend and fellow columnist at Collectors Questsaid upon the passing of Michael Jackson, “One’s fame is directly proportional to how fast people will learn the intimate details of your life, or death, as the case may be… Where celebrity meets mortality, there is eBay.”
Celebrities thrive by this very rule — they use our emotions to sell us less than proper things while alive, such as Michael Jackson “Thriller” panties. So why wouldn’t we buy-buy-buy when they die?
Etiquette rarely, if ever, applies to celebrity.
And how can Perez, of all people, complain about this when he’s “beyond tacky” and a “bloodthirsty” parasite living off celebrities himself?
I’m not sure there’s anything inherently wrong with buying Whitney Houston’s movie-worn clothing weeks after her death than there is buying Clark Gable’s jacket from Gone With the Wind decades later. Do you?
The first scene filmed for Gone With The Wind (1939) was the burning of the Atlanta Depot. And it remains some of the most iconic film images of all time.
Shot on December 10, 1938, using some nine cameras — including all seven of Hollywood’s then-existing Technicolor cameras, the 40 acre set was actually many old MGM sets that needed to be cleared from the studio backlot. Flames 500 feet high leaped from old sets, including the “Great Skull Island Wall” set from King Kong. The fire was so intense, Culver City residents, thinking MGM was burning down, jammed the telephones lines with their frantic calls. Ten pieces of fire equipment from the Los Angeles Fire Department, 50 studio firemen, and 200 other studio help stood by throughout the filming; three 5,000-gallon water tanks were used to put out the flames after shooting. This and other costs put the bill for this famous film fire at over $25,000 for a yield of 113 minutes of footage (some of which was later used in other films; for more on this and the special effects in Gone With The Wind, see Matte Shot).
Now it seems fire plays another role in Gone With The Wind; on February 10, 2012, a fire spread through Hudson Self-Storage in Stockbridge, Georgia. Though firefighters extinguished the fire, all 400 storage units and their contents were damaged, sustaining some degree of fire, smoke, or water damage. Among the storage units, was one leased by the Road to Tara Museum, containing rare memorabilia from Gone With The Wind.
While many items remain safe in the museum, such as the priceless signed first editions of the movie script, Frenda Turner of the Road to Tara Museum fears much of the $300,000 collection in storage was lost. Turner said that among the items not currently on display at the Jonesboro museum and stored in the unit included the large oval paintings of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh seen hanging prominently from the front of the Loew’s Grand Theatre during the movie premier — Loew’s itself caught fire on January 30, 1978, the damage led to the demolition of the historic venue.
Along with being signed by the author no less than three times, this screenplay has a well documented history (primarily) in Rice’s newsletter, Commotion Strange, regarding the arduous process of getting the film underway — even though it had been optioned by producer David Geffen. A brief synopsis of the grief is given here by Rice herself, but the details are so complicated and frustrating, that it prompted Heritage Auctions cataloger Paula Bosse (who researched well) to say, “If ANNE RICE — one of the most popular novelists of our time — has this much trouble finding a home for her baby, how much more difficult is it for an unknown to get a project produced and released?”
I often am asked, “What’s a cross collectible?” For me, the answer is, “Everything!” But technically speaking, a cross collectible is any antique or collectible which appeals to more than one kind of collector and therefore “crosses areas of collecting.” For example, this vintage promotional photo of classic film character actor Jack Carson.
It obviously appeals to fans of Jack Carson or classic film fans, but it also might appeal to collectors of vintage photographs (based on the period, fashions, etc.). If the signature was genuine, and not a printed facsimile, then it would also appeal to autograph collectors. And then there are collectors of smaller niche areas, like those who collect bow ties and all the ephemera and photos about them and maybe those who collect “all things Jack” because it’s their son’s name.
Generally speaking though, the more categories of collecting an item is in (crosses along category lines), and the larger the number of collectors collecting in each of those categories, the more popular (and pricey) an item will be.
And now that Mr. Carson has served his purpose, I’m ready to set him free — to whatever collector wants to have him. So, if you want this vintage photo of Jack Carson (likely from his days at Warner Bros., circa 1940s), enter to win it!
Ways To Enter:
* Post A Comment: Just tell me why you want it — you love classic film, you collect things with big ears (sorry, Jack!), you just love free stuff, whatever!
* Follow Inherited Values on Twitter:@InheritedValues. (Please leave your Twitter username in your comment so I can check.)
* Tweet the following:
I love classic film, antiques & vintage collectibles so entered the giveaway @InheritedValues You can enter here http://bit.ly/tVFY64 !
(Remember to come back here and leave a comment with your tweet for me to verify.)
* Post about this contest at your blog or website — if you do this you must include in your post to this contest post or Inherited Values in general. (Please include the link to your blog post in the comments section so that I can find your post.)
You can do any or all of these, but remember, the only one you can do daily is Tweet. Thanks!
Here’s the giveaway fine print:
* Giveaway is open to US residents only
* Contest ends November 16, 2011; entries must be made on or before midnight, central time, November 15, 2011. Winner will be announced/contacted on November 17, 2011. Winner has 48 hours to respond; otherwise, I’ll draw another name.
Please submit your reviews (or reviews you liked) of vintage books, films, games, records, etc. to be considered in future issues of New Vintage Reviews! (And let me know if you’d like to host a future edition!)
The American Venus was directed by Frank Tuttle, and starred Esther Ralston, Ford Sterling, Edna May Oliver, Lawrence Gray, Fay Lanphier, Louise Brooks (in her first credited role as Miss Bayport), Kenneth MacKenna, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The film was released by Paramount Pictures in 1926 and is considered a presumed lost silent film.
Below is the official auction listing description — with a helpful link provided by me:
The American Venus (Paramount, 1926). Title Lobby Card and Lobby Card (11″ X 14″).
Much has been written about the silent film legend Louise Brooks and her influence on 1920s New York and Hollywood, right down to her trademark “bob” that became widely emulated by ladies of the day. This rare title card and lobby card are from her second film, in which she appeared as a contestant in an Atlantic City beauty contest. Due to its immense popularity, the movie toured the U.S. for two years, along the way making Brooks one of the most noted female cinema stars. Though the borders of both cards have been trimmed and replaced, the restoration was expertly done and the cards present nicely. Very Good.
I went to a movie with my nephew, Zack. As we went in we were each given a pair of 3D glasses. I cringed. I’ve worn them for movies before, in the 1980’s and once for a cartoon sort of thing in the 1970’s. They were painful. Not just my eyes which watered and burned but the headache I was left with. So I was not keen on another 3D experience, not even for Jack Sparrow himself!
This time I was surprised. The glasses were better made, not cardboard with one lens green and the other red. They could easily be mistaken for sunglasses. I did have to wear them over my own eyeglasses but that wasn’t really a problem.
Someone has designed a much better pair of glasses for watching 3D movies. I even kept them after the movie, though almost everyone seemed to be tossing them into the receptacle provided. Zack didn’t keep his. I think people just didn’t have the appreciation for them which I did. To me, they were a miracle in comparison to the old 3D movie glasses.
Technabob: Dolby Shows Off Ugliest 3D Glasses in History– These 3D glasses were made for collectors I think. You can buy them (they aren’t meant to be disposable and returned at the end of the movie) but if you try to walk out with them alarms will go off. Would you buy a pair or reuse those offered at the movie theatre, like a pair of bowling shoes?
I’d never seen anything like them before, so here’s what the seller, dahntahntoys, has to say about them:
54 mm solidcast women’s Suffragette Band by Charles Hall, bought in 1970s at the MFCA show. Eight pieces in mint condition. See photos. Colorful Victorian era female musicians and placard carriers for Women’s Right to Vote.
That still didn’t tell me very much, so I began to research Charles Hall.
Information is disappointingly scant. Charles Hall is said to have been a former police officer in Glasgow, Scotland who started his scale miniature toy production with some Scottish regiments figures about the mid 1970s. Eventually, he produced up to 350 different figures.
During the 1970’s when Britains where not producing metal band figures;three prolific makers emerged in the English speaking world. They all made complete lines from their own masters and moulds. …The least know was a Scottish maker who named his line after himself CHARLES HALL.
Charles produced two areas of personal interest to himself from 1975 t0 1985 which were German Bands and Salvation Army Bands. In the early 1990’s Hank Anton of the USA bought Halls moulds but never produced very many sets from the line.
Along with the suffragettes, there are Dixieland jazz bands (and other bands with black musicians) and the largest variety of Salvation Army figures ever issued.
But Hall also seems to have specialized in miniature scale versions of many civilian figures, including fictional characters, figures such as Scotland Yard’s finest, Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Hitler, Dracula, the beautifully odd Burke and Hare (Edinburgh’s most infamous grave robbers), and others… Including, perhaps, the most interesting miniature collectible toy pieces: Hitler and oddball Nazi caricatures.
I’d love to hear from collectors or anyone who knows more about Charles Hall and his wonderful scale miniatures!
Normally Inherited Values is all about antiques and vintage collectibles, but when I met Anne Olivares & Ashley Lampton, dedicated collectors of all things Drew Barrymore and curators of the The Drewseum, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at relatively modern collecting in comparison to vintage movie star memorabilia.
Hello, ladies, when did you begin collecting all things Drew?
Coincidentally, we each first became fans of Drew around the same time, in 1998. By early 1999, we’d both started collecting magazines featuring her, and our collections quickly branched out to cover all facets of memorabilia.
Did you know each other when you began collecting, or meet because of your collecting?
We met online in 1999 through Drew fansites and quickly formed a friendship. We only lived a few hours from each other at that time, so we met up many times. Later we ended up living even closer to each other, so we were able to hang out frequently and do many Drew-related things together. We started working on our website to showcase what we consider our combined collection in 2005.
How many items are in your Drew Barrymore collection? Across what categories?
It would be near impossible to count the number of items in our combined collections, but we estimate it somewhere in the thousands. Not everything is displayed on The Drewseum quite yet as it’s a constant work in progress.
On the site, we have our collection broken out into 10 main categories, including photos, movie memorabilia, books, magazines, apparel and more. There’s a large section for miscellaneous items as well since over the years we’ve acquired items that don’t fit into a specific category.
Drew Barrymore is part of a family with a great acting and film history; do you collect memorabilia from anyone else in her family?
We do have a small collection of items relating to the Barrymore family. We don’t actively seek them out, but if we come across something special, we jump on it. We’ve also bought vintage Barrymore pieces as gifts for Drew in the past knowing she’d have a deeper appreciation for them.
Gifts for Drew?! Have you actually sent things to her — has she or her staff ever acknowledged them?
For several years for her birthday, we’ve had a tradition of putting together picture frames with prints of Drew’s family as gifts for her – some reprints, some originals. Usually, we’ve either dropped them off with her staff or mailed them in to her production company. This year we got the chance to hand-deliver it to her personally, which was really exciting for us and she was unbelievably appreciative of the gifts. The whole story can be found on our site.
That’s amazing! And truly something that collectors of say, silent film stars can’t even dream of — without a time machine. *wink*
What are your collecting standards?
We consider ourselves somewhat frugal in our collecting. Unless something is truly exceptional, we generally hold off spending too much money and are often rewarded by later coming across it at a more affordable price.
When we first started collecting, we didn’t take great care of our items and often bought things like bad copies of photos without realizing it. We keep these damaged or poor quality pieces in our collection, but these days shop with a much more discerning eye.
I’m glad you mentioned conditions; what painful lessons have you learned from collecting?
Don’t use sticky photo albums or glue anything down in a way that is permanent.
Don’t try to use undersized page protectors for oversized pages.
Sadly our items have incurred a lot of damage in years past due to these poor practices.
How do you store your Drew Barrymore collectibles and movie memorabilia? What’s one tool, organizer, etc. that you cannot imagine being without as a collector?
We both have slightly different storage ideas, but we’ve also learned a lot from each other over the years. (Anne keeps a lot of her magazines with cover features intact while Ashley usually keeps only the relevant Drew pages.) We store any non-flat movie memorabilia in storage bins, a lot of which can’t be displayed due to lack of space.
The most vital tools for us are binders with appropriately sized page protectors as magazine articles, clippings, photographs, movie ads, etc probably occupy at least 75% of our collections.
I can’t bear the idea of cutting up magazines and newspapers, vintage or not — however, I do love finding the clippings and scrapbooks others have made and saved. What are your thoughts on clippings?
We’ve become quite used to cutting apart paper items over the years. In fact, our collection of clippings is so vast that we don’t really know if we’ll ever catch up on properly organizing and displaying the items in binders. We came across a collector who kept magazines together even if they just had 1 small clipping of Drew inside and that’s something we could never see ourselves doing. The space taken up by 1 entire magazine versus 1 clipping page or partial page is too big in the long run. Our main reasoning for making clippings is for easy access and display, at least once they’re in binders.
Those of us who collect vintage movie memorabilia know how hard it is to find certain items; paper and other little things were tossed out over the years. How does that affect how you shape your collections, what items you focus on?
We are definitely more attracted to items that relate to Drew’s early career and teenage years as we know they’re constantly becoming more difficult to come across.
We cringe at the thought of our most sought-after items having been printed in mass production at one point and now feel impossible to find.
On the other hand, we often don’t feel as excited about the newly released pieces until years later for the same reasons. For example, we’re attracted to items such as newspapers that are only on stands for a day, later making them so difficult to find. As with any collection, the rarer the item, the more desirable it becomes.
What items do you think collectors of contemporary film stars or celebrities make the mistake of overlooking?
It’s possible that collectors of contemporary stars make a lot of the mistakes we made at first, including attaching collected magazine pages to the walls of our bedrooms as teenagers.
One of the most amazing things we’ve found over the years is that foreign magazines often print outtakes from common photo shoots, usually years after they were taken in the states, so collectors should always be on the lookout for those.
How has running the Drewseum affected your collection, your collecting habits?
Since we started The Drewseum, we’ve had a quite a few of our fellow fans decide to stop collecting and either donate or sell their collections to us. We’ve had many people tell us that after seeing our site, they felt their Drew items really belonged with us. It’s sort of a strange phenomenon that we constantly joke about, as the pool of major collectors has dwindled quite a bit.
Also because we’re eager to display our items on the site for our visitors to see, we are more encouraged to stay on top of the collecting game and seek out the best items. It’s also interesting to see the difference in credibility we have with the contacts we make because they can go to the site and see how serious our collecting is.
Being that your collaborate on the Drewseum, yet you are still individual collectors, have you ever found yourselves competing for items? If so, do you have any rules — or is it still just a matter of whoever has the deepest pockets wins?
Although there have been situations where one of us may have the money for something that the other doesn’t, we’ve never had a hard time being fair when it comes to splitting up or deciding who will take the offer on amazing deals. People might be surprised as to how easy it is for us to decide who gets what, but it’s based on how well we know each other’s interests. Also, it helps that we always remind each other that the collections are shared and that when one of us has it, both of us do. The concept still makes sense for us despite the fact that 90% of our collections are clones of each other.
What I enjoy most about individual collections is, well, the individuality! In this case, your collecting is relatively contemporary, preserving what will be the history of an icon for future generations — but from the fan point of view, not some “corporate preservation.” What are some of the most prized items in your collection? What makes them so key to the collection as a whole?
Some of the most prized items in our collection are costumes and props from Drew’s films. We have some rare magazine items that we’ve only come across a handful of times on eBay and from other collectors over the years. We have a massive collection of original photos that are very near & dear to our hearts, many of which are extremely rare.
We also treasure our stationary & Christmas cards from Drew’s production company Flower Films.
There is a scarce catalog from Drew’s 1993 campaign with Guess that we both tried to obtain for years and luckily we now each own a copy; we’ve seen it sell for upwards of $800 as it’s somewhat of a “holy grail” for Drew collectors.
What remains the most elusive item that you’ve yet to acquire for the Drewseum?
We’ve been lucky enough to acquire most of the items we’ve sought after, even if it’s taken years of a searching. We are always on the look out for rare photos or items she’s personally used, like movie costumes. There are still a few elusive magazines and ads from her modeling campaigns we’re hoping to track down. Although we already own a handful of autographed items and they aren’t really a priority to us, it would be really special to have something signed that was made out to “The Drewseum”.
I’ve no doubt that day will come!
I’d like to thank both Anne and Ashley for sharing their collection of Drew Barrymore items and movie memorabilia — and I wish them many more fun years of collecting!
Her whimsical designs in Bakelite, wood and metal were mass-produced by the New England Novelty Company. (Decades later, in the 1970s, Andy Warhol would find and adore her creations, amassing one the largest collections and resurrecting the demand for vintage Bakelite jewelry in general.)
These are snippets on Sleeper’s jewelery from a beauty and fashion column published in the Mansfield News Journal on April 17, 1940:
An ad for Martha Sleeper’s jewelry found in the Racine Journal Times November 10, 1939 — only $1!
Another ad, with an image, of Sleeper jewelry designs; The Salt Lake Tribune, October 10, 1941:
In 1949, Sleeper and her husband sailed on a 40-foot schooner from from New York for a vacation in the Virgin Islands, but when she reached Puerto Rico she fell in love with the island — and stayed. By 1950, Sleeper had given up making jewlery (“too tedious”) for making fashions and had opened “Martha Sleeper Creates,” a boutique at 101 Fortaleza St. in Old San Juan.
The shop began “with two dozen hand-made skirts and three dozen blouses and filled up the gaps in the place with plants. People thought I had a florist shop and for the first year, I couldn’t sell anything but greens .” (Quotes from Cumberland Evening Times, May 27, 1955; below.)
By 1955, her fashions, and accessories such as purses etc., were exported to other islands and the mainland. Below is an article from Billings Gazette, July 1, 1964, on Martha Sleeper’s lace fashions:
By 1964, Sleeper is said to have also opened a shop in Palm Beach, Florida.
As part of the programme, we are recreating 7 important images that tell the history of Movie star photography in Hollywood.
Our first image is the above still of Theda Bara.
After googling around on line, I came across some information that said you have some of the items Theda wore in the photo. Is that so? I’d love to hear more about it. We’re right at the start so I am trying to gather as much information about each of the images. I’d love to hear about your research.
The program is tentatively titled Shooting the Stars: Hollywood Photography; I’m very eager to see what the other six images will be selected and to see the documentary!
Also, because of my 2008 interview with Cade about Annette Kellermann, Cade was contacted by glass lantern slide collector Rob, who shared not only this glass lantern slide promoting Queen of the Sea…
But this bit of news too:
I am currently researching a book on the subject of lantern slides and their use as an advertising medium for motion pictures, and in conjunction with that I am developing a web site (www.starts-thursday.com).
So there’s a new site to keep an eye on — and, hopefully, a new book!
In what may seem like an unlikely match, the SyFy channel enters into collectibles infotainment with Hollywood Treasure; yet given the nature of the show, it may not seem such a strange match…
Hollywood Treasure follows the activities of Joe Maddalena, the owner of Profiles in History, the world’s largest auctioneer of movie and television props and memorabilia. Since science fiction has given us some of the most iconic films, TV shows, and pop culture reference points, a show about such significant relics is rather suited to the channel. And we certainly can’t ignore that sci-fi has some of the most devoted fans and obsessive collectors!
Hollywood Treasure sure does show incredible pieces of film history — the sort of things that most of us are even afraid to dream about having. For example, on the premiere episodes last night, we saw the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from The Wizard of Oz. It sold for $200,000 — if I’m recalling correctly; it rather blew my mind!
In this way, Hollywood Treasure is rather like the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous of the collecting shows; it showcases some of the most rare keepsakes of our culture, with auction prices to match, that end up in private collections. It’s eye candy most of us will never have. Maybe never even see (outside of the show).
But that’s not the only reason the show is worth watching.
As an obsessive collector who dreams of the ability (and staff!) to find and research objects until the answers are found — or at least all options are exhausted, I enjoy watching the means and methods Maddalena and his staff use to authenticate items.
In fact, I wish a bit more time was spent showing the details of such pursuits.
And the steps in identifying the old carpet bag found in a Chicago basement as the one used by Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins were so fascinating that the frames seemed to fly by too quickly.
But maybe that’s the sort of hunger that’s never really satiated for the obsessive. *wink* (And I can get that sort of info from History Detectives too.)
Then too there are the moments we collectors can bond over, no matter how deep our pockets, or how rare our collectibles.
The ambiguous anxiety of Sue Palmer, the owner of the Wicked Witch’s hat, as she pondered whether or not to sell was something most of us know (even if our decision to sell doesn’t bring such big bucks). It’s that personal connection to the tangible object versus money; it’s where “Mine!” meets “Maybe it belongs somewhere else — to someone else…” We’ve all been there and wrestled with those decisions.
And my heart broke when horror collector Ron Magid had to stop the bidding on Lugosi’s suit at $95,000 and lose what he coveted… Haven’t we all had to bail on bidding or just walk away and leave what we love behind? Oh, the agony of wallet’s defeat!
But I was nodding and grinning again when Magid explained his reason for putting down his paddle: “I’d spend the rest of the life on the front porch if my wife knew I’d spent $100,000 on a suit.”
So while the collectibles shown in SyFy’s Hollywood Treasure are completely out of my reach, the fundamental aspects of collecting are here: the passion for hunting, preserving, owning, research, buying and selling exist in all levels of collecting.
However, part of the charm of shows like Pawn Stars and American Pickers is the chemistry between the cast (or, if you prefer, the professionals). Since only two episodes of Hollywood Treasure have aired, it’s difficult to say if this sort of fun will emerge on thhe show. Right now, the tone is far more “business professional” which, while perhaps more appropriate for the caliber of collectibles, rather removes that sense of personality. But as I said, time will tell.
Personally, I’m looking forward to more episodes of Hollywood Treasure.
And if the beyond-my-grasp level of grand collectibles makes this show more of a guilty pleasure than an actual informative show, I can live with that.
EBay’s Comic Book Superhero Auction Event event, timed to run alongside the box office premiere of Iron Man 2 starring Robert Downey Jr., runs through Sunday May 9th, 2010.
During this event several rare and collectible comic related items — many never before offered for sale on eBay — will be featured. Along with vintage comic books (single issues and complete runs), the auctions include original art, signed prints, memorabilia, and specially designed artwork such as an Iron Man drawing rendered specifically for this promotional eBay event by comics artist Joe Linsner.
Bidding starts at $0.99 for most items; for items valued over $1,000, the bidding starts at $99.99. All items are available as auctions with free shipping and no reserve.
Seventy years ago — long before Itchy & Scratchy appeared on the Krusty the Clown Show on The Simpsons — there was Tom & Jerry.
The series of animated theatrical shorts was created for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by Hanna and Barbera. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera ultimately wrote and directed one hundred and fourteen Tom and Jerry cartoons (and earned seven Academy Awards for Best Short Subject, Cartoons) for the MGM cartoon studio in Hollywood between 1940 and 1959, when the animation unit was closed. Tom & Jerry would live on, however, with different animators and studios before returning home to Hanna & Barbera.
The incredible popularity of the never-ending cat and mouse games between Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse produced these red plastic cookie cutters by Lowe.
Along with the heads of Tom and Jerry, I also have Barney Bear, Droopy Dog, and a full body cookie cutter of Jerry.
These particular cookie cutters, , marked with a copyright date of 1956, are made of a sheer red hard plastic — but the series was also available in green.
In the film, Rainer plays Gilberte “Frou Frou” Brigard, who gets the name Frou Frou from the sound of her swishing dresses. And that certainly does imply more than a love of fashion, but a frivolity as well.
Many compare this film to Gone With The Wind, Camille, and Jezebel for more than its location and time period; like Frank Miller at TCM, folks refer to Frou Frou as a “tempestuous Southern belle.” But I disagree. For while she’s as beautiful and charming as those other women, fundamentally Frou Frou is not the hardened and man-ipulative woman of pride seen in those other films.
If she seems spoiled, it’s a result of those who have been so charmed by her that they’ve pampered and protected her into a perpetual state of childhood. Example: When the matronly Madame Vallaire complains of a toothache and claims that the worst thing about it is that treatment requires a visit to the city of New Orleans, Frou Frou, who desperately wants to see the glamorous city, fakes a toothache herself. It’s the obvious ploy of a child who has just seconds before begged to go to the city, but the next thing you know, Frou Frou, her sister, and Madame Vallaire are all in New Orleans.
Yes, Frou Frou is spoiled. But even so, she lacks a shewish quality — or even an iron sense of will bend others to. Her strengths lay in an innocence and a resiliency born of continual enchantment and enthusiasm.
In fact, Frou Frou’s childlike sense of wonder rather leaves her sans the mission and the guile (if not the means of feminine charms) to be the iron fist in the velvet glove genre of southern belle heroines.
Frou Frou wants a husband — but like many a young woman, she is more in love with love, infatuated with the idea of a husband rather than setting her sights on any one in particular… And in fact, it is her lovelorn sister who inserts Frou Frou into her own romance, creating not only a love triangle but breaking Frou Frou’s own burgeoning romance, and setting up the tragedies which ensue.
Luise Rainer’s portrayal of Frou Frou is as charming as can be. Not only is she a beauty (those cheekbones are to die for!), but she manages to encapsulate both an enthusiasm as frothy, delicate, and gay as those swishing skirts — as well as an appreciation and delight for what she has (which, as any parent will tell you, is rarely a virtue of children). When Frou Frou says, “I want to look at this room, it’s such a pretty room,” there’s a breathless wistfulness usually reserved for moments of longing… Yet this is about what she already has. And the scenes with her film screen son, Georgie, are so beautiful to watch.
In the end, film critics and movie-goers alike didn’t like this film. Frankly, they just didn’t get it. When they say Rainer is “too feminine,” it’s clear they are as ignorant to the delights of Frou Frou as they are the storyline and the plight of The Toy Wife.
I must have movie stills, magazine articles (like the one shown above, from Picture Show magazine, a London weekly, dated October 15th 1938), and (dare to dream!) something from that film that Luise Rainer as Frou Frou touched…
And please, TCM, I beg of you to get this released on DVD!
I won’t be collecting for me, for commercial reasons — I’ll be collecting for Frou Frou. She needs to know that someone, even all these years later, loved her as she was.
I know collecting yet another film means I risk collecting all things Luise Rainer, but I simply cannot, will not, abandon Frou Frou. So it’s a risk this collector is very willing to take.
After recently acquiring a batch of 1935 Movie Star Dixie Premium Photos … and, of course, making them available for sale … I wanted to revisit the popular collectibles one more time, something I see I most recently did last April on the VintageMeld.
That post is more centered around Tom Popelka’s excellent Dixie Premiums Checklist book which is my go-to guide whenever I pick up a batch of Dixie’s. As Tom writes in his entertaining forward where he otherwise tells stories of collecting Dixie’s as a youth:
Most collectors do not know which year a premium or lid belongs in. There is also a lack of knowledge of how to identify the year a premium was issued … Other oddities exist as well.
Mr. Popelka’s checklist indentifies not only all of the Movie Star Dixie Premiums issued between 1933-1953, but also includes checklist pages for each of the non-film related Dixie issues such as Zoo Animals, America Attacks, Defend America, other World War II themed issues, and the highly valued Baseball Dixies.
By the way, you may have noted the quote I’ve included above refers to a “premium or lid.” This is what really makes this a fascinating issue to me. Lids were commonly available–they refer to the cardboard lid on your little cup of Dixie Ice Cream. Pop it off and there’s Clark Gable, Ginger Rogers or even Jimmie Foxx staring back at you.
While the lids are also popularly collected today what makes the premiums more, well, premium, is how one originally came to acquire them. Either by mail or, as Mr. Popelka tells of us own experience, through redemption center–it took a dozen Dixie Lids to acquire one Dixie Premium Photo. Thus beyond the advantage of the overall attractiveness of the larger Premiums there’s a rarity factor at work which actually makes them still a bargain at several times the price of the Lids!
I found my copy of the Dixie Premiums Checklist secondhand online, but at the time of that 2009 VintageMeld post Mr. Popelka gave me permission to include his address for anyone wishing to purchase a copy directly from him. For details write:
P.O. Box 3130
Temple, TX 76505-3130
To see some of the Dixie Premiums I’ve handled, beyond those currently available, please see my archived pages at things-and-other-stuff.com which show off the early black and white 1934 Dixie Premiums, which were issued as two separate sheets, and more of the colorful 1935 Dixie Premiums. The 1935 page also includes a gallery of later Dixie Premiums below and some of the pricey sports stars (Foxx, Bob Feller, Sammy Baugh, Bronko Nagurski, etc.) at the bottom of the page.
If you’re looking to collecting something more than just cards at a great value on your dollar I can’t heartily enough recommend the challenge of either the Dixie Lids or Dixie Premiums. They’re fun, mostly affordable and yet at the same time challenging to piece sets together. To get a leg up I think one of your first purchases should be Tom Popelka’s excellent checklist which I’ll continue to recommend as the topic comes up!
Mary Ann Cade doesn’t only preserve silent film history, she also collects movie and television props: “It is fun to watch the program and see if you can see the item worn on the show by an actor or actress or see the piece as part of the set decoration. It also makes one pay attention to other things going on during a particular scene instead of just the actors. The fact that a famous person or someone I admire or respect held that piece, touched that piece, is also quite exciting.”
Among her recent acquisitions, glamorous jewelry from one of my favorite films, Holiday Inn (1942). (I’ve always preferred it to White Christmas (1954), which was really just a remake — or at least a cannibalized movie “update” that’s not as good as the original.) Here are the brooch and earrings from the classic film that Cade now owns:
As the collector herself point out, “The neat thing about jewelry or wardrobe is that one can wear it too instead of it sitting on a shelf collecting dust and taking up space.”
Being the fan that I am (both of Cade and silent film), I couldn’t just let Mary Ann Cade go that easily after delivering her recent silent film news — I had to ask her about her extraordinary collecting efforts regarding another silent film actress, Valda Valkyrien. As always, Cade graciously accepted.
She does not look like any other silent star of the period. She has an ethereal almost angelic quality that radiates from her photos and looks quite different from other actresses. The photo got me to looking into her history and her film product as well.
When I started checking into her background, I only knew of one surviving film, her last called Shattered Dreams aka Bolshevism on Trial (1919) available for purchase through Grapevine Video. But perseverance and repeated inquiries have resulted in locating several other films.
Since Valkyrien made films in Denmark before coming to the U.S. in 1914, I started researching her films through my contacts at the Danish Film Institute. They informed me that two or three films in which she is a minor player survive in their archive, and that one of them, Circus Catastrophe, had been released in 2007 on DVD because it starred Danish matinee idol Valdemar Psilander. The only place to get this film is through the DFI archive, so it is really a very isolated title.
Most of Valkyrien’s films exist only in fragmentary form or survive only via movie still photographs. Here are some surviving images from The Valkyrie (1915) which show just how beautiful the actress was:
The Hidden Valley (1916), another Thanhouser release, was a starring role for Valkyrien and was thought to be a lost film.
In early 2009, while researching fragments which turned out to be for another film (stay tunned for another post!), I contacted the Library of Congress. They checked the FIAF database (paid filmography database in which you have to be a member to access the information) and stated that Screensound Australia might hold some footage of it. Screensound then sent these two pieces of film from The Hidden Valley:
And Screensound mentioned that they have something that indicates Florence LaBadie, the queen of the Thanhouser lot, was part of the cast. Ms. LaBadie was the reigning box office queen for the studio and Ned Thanhouser could find no records of her ever appearing in the cast, so he is intrigued as well. Ms. LaBadie died from injuries sustained in an auto accident in 1917 and her death was one of the events that eventually caused the studio to shut down.
We are still working on finding more Hidden Valley footage as well as determining if Ms. LaBadie was a cast member.
Since that time, we also have found Diana (1916), a Pluragraph release which is part of an Unknown Cinema box set release. However, the version Screensound has, from the Library of Congress, is a much shorter version of the film than the nearly complete print the Cineteca del Fruili sent me. I have been in touch with the Library of Congress to see if they want a more complete copy for their archive.
Another of Valkyrien’s starring vehicles is reputed to be in a private collection and we are making every effort to obtain the film from the collector, but so far we are running in circles. I keep hoping, though…
And we’re still working on a couple of silent films that may exist but I don’t have confirmation of the facts as of yet.
In other words, stay tunned to see what Cade & the crew dedicated to Valda Valkyrien dig up!
*Here’s the briefest of bios on silent film actress Valda Valkyrien:
Born Adele Eleonore Freed in 1894 or 1895, she began her career as a performer as a prima ballerina in the Royal Danish Ballet performing under the stage name Valda Valkyrien. She began appearing in motion pictures for Nordisk Film productions of Copenhagen in 1912, and married Danish nobleman Baron Hrolf von Dewitz, becoming Baroness von Dewitz, in 1914 before making films in the United States.