Saturday, January 24, 2015

MGM Auction, 1970

Today I decided to share more scans of my friend Rol Summit's personal Viewmaster photos from when he visited the MGM Studio in Culver City back in 1970. The pictures were taken just before the historic auctions in which every prop and costume was sold to the highest bidder. See my previous MGM posts HERE, HERE, and HERE. It still kills me to see all of these artifacts from the studio being sold off.

This first photo is from a room that apparently was full of various styles of bed frames, as well as screens, picture frames, random furniture, and more. Check out this enormous, intricately-carved rococo frame (perhaps for a mirror?)… amazing craftsmanship. I wonder if it was a genuine French antique? The reddish color is odd, perhaps it is a primer in preparation for the application of gold leaf. A giant photo of me would look great in that frame!

I love this beautiful, realistic "miniature" ship, detailed down to the elaborate rigging. Maybe this qualifies as a "bigature"? I'm sure it didn't float, but it looks like it's big enough to take a few passengers out on the water. Presumably this would have been purchased by another studio; as cool as it is, what would anybody else do with it?

Here are more ships and boats of varying styles and from different eras. 

This one is blurry, unfortunately, but I figured it was still worth a look; tons of lamps, tables, chairs, sofas, chandeliers, and other furnishings from decades of moviemaking were up for grabs.

The sheer number of items is astonishing. Here are more ornate mirrors, random paintings, candlesticks, urns, lamps, and so on. Just what you need if you plan on filming an elaborate costumed historical drama.

This one is rather dark, but Rol took another photo of it that turned out better on the next reel that I will share. As you can see, there is a large variety of breastplates, mail, and armor, along with an incongruous "Gee-Bee"-style racing airplane model.

And finally we get another look at some of the incredible costumes that were auctioned off. Half hidden is what must be one of Judy Garland's "Dorothy" dresses. I wonder how many of these gowns wound up in Debbie Reynolds' collection?

OK, I asked the question about Debbie Reynolds, and then decided, for the hell of it, to look at the downloadable catalogs from the Profiles in History auction site. In only minutes, I found a photo of that elegant, ornate red dress just right of center. The catalog says that it was used in the 1938 movie "Marie Antoinette". It wasn't even worn by the star, but by one of the "ladies in waiting"!! It sold in 2011 for $8000.

I'm not 100% sure if that long red gown is the same one that can be seen in the MGM photo (to the left) - but I think it is; it was sold in a lot of four costumes… the lot went for a mere $375.

I hope you have enjoyed these photos from MGM!


Nanook said...


I walked the hallowed "halls" of MGM to 'preview' the auction items, and these images help me to remember it. Yes, it was quite something.

Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

[CHUCK gazes in wonder, open-mouthed, wide-eyed, speechless]

K. Martinez said...

I always get a kick out of spotting props like lamps, dressers or mirrors used in one movie showing up in another movie from the same era.

Thanks to both you and Rol Summit for sharing these. They're Wonderful!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, wow, you were lucky! Wish I could have seen it for myself, even in its final days.

Chuck, ha ha, I guess you liked these?

K. Martinez, I am sure I have never been observant enough to see the same piece of furniture (or lamp) in a movie, but I suppose that if I watched many MGM musicals in a row, maybe it would happen!

Anonymous said...

That one warehouse picture looks like the lobby of the Tower of Terror.

I remember the Universal tour going through a prop warehouse, but nothing like this.

Thanks for these great pics.


Dave said...

I have a very cool pair of high top fringed moccasins worn in the 1950's movie The Frontiersman starring Bert Lancaster purchased from that auction. I wear them occasionally and enjoy people's reactions.