June 19th, 2011

carole lombard 07
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This gown, worn by Carole Lombard when she portrayed small-town librarian Connie Randall in the 1932 film "No Man Of Her Own" and for many years part of Debbie Reynolds' famed classic Hollywood memorabilia collection, now has a new owner.

The beige gown, designed by Paramount's Travis Banton, the man who helped create the iconic style of Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich and other stars, sold for $11,000, plus a $2,530 buyer's premium, at Saturday's auction of Reynolds' items sponsored by Profiles in History. (Bidding began at $8,000.)

Here's how the gown was described: "Fantastic beige floor length gown with ornately pleated back panel and scarf, accented with embroidery wire, sequins, jet beads and seed pearls at neckline, on sleeves and tips of scarf and train. Sleeves are detached and have been altered, exhibits holes in the mid section."

To the lucky (and presumably wealthy) buyer, congratulations.

That gown was the only Lombard item among the 587 auctioned Saturday (most of which, but not all, were costumes). To no one's surprise, the highest-bid item was the white "subway" dress Marilyn Monroe wore in "The Seven-Year Itch"; it went for $5.658 million, including a buyer's premium alone of more than $1 million.

Monroe memorabilia dwarfed just about everyone else's at the auction. Her red-sequined showgirl gown, plus feathered hat, from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" went for $1.476 million, while gowns from "River Of No Return" and "There's No Business Like Show Business" each fetched more than $600,000.

Lombard's husbands were also represented at the auction. Clark Gable's dressing gown that he wore during filming of "Gone With The Wind" (with the studio tag “D.O. Selznick Studio Mr. C. Gable/Dressing Room”) went for $12,300, well above the $2,000-$3,000 it was predicted to go for. A pinstriped suit worn by William Powell in the 1949 Twentieth Century-Fox film "Dancing In The Dark" sold for $2,767.50.

Reynolds will have another memorabilia auction this fall, one that will focus on her extensive collection of non-clothing items, and there may be some Lombard goodies among them. For now, there's this, part of an auction next month from Ira and Larry Goldberg:

This autograph will be featured in a July 9 auction; its estimated value is $250-$350 and bids start at $120. To learn more, or place a bid, go to http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/9339499. (And to see what individual items at Saturday's auction went for, visit http://www.icollector.com/Debbie-Reynolds-The-Auction_as20092.)
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