Hollywood: No Laughing Matter

- by Bruce E. McKinney

Cbs

This sale feels personal


By Bruce McKinney

For a few days in LA this month it is going to seem like Hollywood memorabilia is a dime a dozen. This is because it literally will be. The contents of the Collectors Book Store in Hollywood with its three to four million items will be dispersed over three days as 3,009 lots. This works out to more than 1,100 items per lot, two lots a minute, 1.2 million items a day. When its over the largest concentration of Hollywood kitsch to come on the market in decades will have been dispersed. We know it will sell because the reserves have been set low, typically $200 to $300. The sellers don't want the material back.

What's there? It of course depends on who you speak to. What's interesting is that many people have opinions and many of them are unprintable. The same is not true for the descriptions that have been printed in a deluxe 386 page catalog on 40 pound glossy stock. The catalogue notwithstanding, about this sale the only thing everyone agrees on is that no one knows what's really there. The lots are so complex that they are more akin to secret-Santa packages than traditional auction lots.

Lot 2331 is "Large Lot of 160+ signed books including actor, actress, and director biographies and autobiographies, books on film and movie tie-ins, as well as books about Hollywood culture." The lot includes copies signed by Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Richard Nixon, Charles Bukowski , Edward Abby, Ann-Margaret, Yul Brenner, Eddie Cantor, Jackie Chan, Michael Crichton, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas, James Ellroy, Lillian Gish, Spike Lee, Janet Leigh, Jay Leno, Leonard Nimoy, Anne Rice, Neil Simon, Jane Smiley, Gloria Swanson, Lars von Trier, Fay Wray and many others. The estimate is $200-300.

Lot 2,332 is another "Large Lot of 350+ signed books including actor, actress, and director biographies and autobiographies, books on film and movie tie-ins, works on fiction, as well as books about Hollywood culture." Estimate $200-$300. This sounds like an instant collection or an eBay seller's inventory acquisition.

Lots 2333-2485 is "the script archive." I know you are now wondering which movies are involved. Think again and focus on an actor or director. Lot 2333 is 21 Barrymore items, 2334 4 Clara Bow pieces, 2335 15 Brando items, 2336 10 Cagney, 2339 16 Gary Cooper, 2341 24 Bing Crosby, 2342 7 Bette Davis, 2351 13 Judy Garland, 2352 20 Cary Grant. The list is long.

Now let's think about categories of scripts. Lot 2383 is 50 musicals. If you miss that one 2384 is 18 more. For those who prefer vintage material lot 2397 is scripts from 11 Laurel & Hardy films, 2398 2 Harold Lloyd, 2393 13 W. C. Fields, 2399 3 Marx Brothers. Perhaps you'd like material from the 'Our Gang' comedies. Lot 2402 includes 27 pieces. Do you prefer genre? There are 16 'Universal Horror' lots. If you feel incomplete with 'Planet of the Apes' material check out lot 2433. How about the Muppet movies? Lot 2431 contains scripts from 7 films. In this auction you can be fussy. For specialists [in what?] 2438 is 'Giant Monsters and Savage Beasts.' Twenty-seven items from 16 films will keep you occupied. If you prefer a director's perspective there are separate lots of scripts for Frank Capra, Frances Ford Coppola, Cecil B. DeMille, Brain De Palma, John Ford, Howard Hanks, John Huston, Sam Peckinpah to mention only a few of this group.