Looking great in an all-purple jacket and pants ensemble, Debbie welcomed us, beaming and chirpy as she explained the history of every costume or Hollywood artifact, sometimes even breaking into a song or reciting a line from the movie.
The star of MGM musicals such as Singin’ in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown is auctioning off her collection, which she accumulated over four decades, after her dream of building a museum for it failed to materialize. “I have insured my collection for $30 million, and my son Todd Fisher just wants me to keep one red dress with the feathers for him to look at probably when his mother is gone,” Debbie revealed with a smile.
Upon hearing that, her publicist told her, “Stop saying things about you being gone!”
Debbie, who was singing “Fit as a Fiddle” as she toured us, announced, “It’s great to be alive!” She also recalled how she was in the Philippines during the Korean War in the 1950s, when she entertained the American troops in Asia.
She even added, “I knew the foreign press even before there was a Hollywood Foreign Press.”
So how did she manage to get all these pieces? “See this hand?” she asked, raising her right hand. “That is the hand that buys anything. And I also talk to the other people not to bid on items that I like. I tell them, ‘Don’t bid. This is for a museum.’”
Unfortunately, Debbie’s dream of having a museum for her “babies” did not come true. So now, she is holding two auction dates for her collection—one on June 18 and the other one on December 3. “There will be more pieces on the December 3rd one,” she revealed.
The impressive collection includes Marilyn Monroe’s “Subway Dress” from The Seven Year Itch, Elizabeth Taylor’s signature royal headdress and Richard Burton’s Mark Anthony costume from the 1963 film Cleopatra, Audrey Hepburn’s “Ascot Dress” from My Fair Lady, Barbra Streisand’s signature purple dress with purple purse and bustle from Hello Dolly, Julie Andrews’s red brown jumper with white blouse and autographed acoustic guitar from The Sound of Music, among many others.
The sharp and witty Debbie even delivered jokes while she was touring us. “I love Elizabeth Taylor so much I gave her my husband,” she said with a smile. Or, “I love my son, Todd, but I just do not like his last name (Fisher).”
We asked her: Does she also buy her own costumes?
“I don’t buy Debbie Reynolds because I live her,” she quickly replied, adding, “I spent a lot on this collection. It is all the money I made that my husband did not get!”
Then she turned to us and asked, “How do you say goodbye in the Philippines?”
“Paalam,” we replied.
Then she waved her hand and said “Paalam!” to her collection of Hollywood history.
Click through the gallery below to see a glimpse of some of the items up for auction.
E-mail the writer at email@example.com for your comments or questions.
(Photos by Janet R. Nepales)
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