Los Angeles, CA (November 21, 2011) – Bette Davis called it “a sumptuous treat…a glorious collection…so vast and so very complete.” Joan Crawford found it to be a “totally impressive collection of movie treasures… Thank God someone had the sense to save all these wonderful memories.” The Hollywood Legends Collection, assembled over nearly seven decades and painstakingly preserved by former costume professional John LeBold, today went up for sale to buyers both private and institutional. Valued at more than $10 million and containing some of the most rare and iconic costumes and memorabilia from the Silent and Golden Eras of Hollywood, the Hollywood Legends Collection is one of the world’s largest private collections of American cinematic history. The decision to sell the collection was made in light of the age and health of Mr. LeBold, who wishes it to remain together and accessible, for the benefit of history and public viewing for generations to come. Its sale will benefit two organizations, The Giving Back Fund and Americana Dance Theatre.
A portion of the collection is now on exhibit at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and some of its costumes and props may be perused on the website, www.HollywoodLegendsCollection.org, where a complete inventory can be provided upon request. A convention center would be required to exhibit the full breadth of the collection, which includes 887 costumes; more than 6300 lobby cards; over 115,000 photos including oversized portraits, 8x10s, keybook photographs and movie stills; negatives; scripts; press books; magazines; programs; song sheets; scrapbooks and other memorabilia. It also includes components of the 1987 DeMille Dynasty Exhibition, designed by Oscar-winning art director Eugenio Zanetti. For three decades John LeBold and his collection have traveled to every continent of the world, most notably in exhibitions for Emperor Hirohito of Japan , for Princess Alexandra Borghese of Rome , and in a seven-year tour of Russia . It has also been displayed throughout the U.S. at museums, malls and other venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Motion Picture Academy, Planet Hollywood and the 50th anniversary of Bloomingdale’s. The collection has been used to raise money for a variety of causes and charities, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Hollywood couture is at the heart of the Hollywood Legends Collection, featuring the best-known, best-loved apparel in the history of American cinema, with the original studio label on 99% of the pieces verifying their authenticity. Among the most iconic costumes and performers:
- Vivien Leigh’s green velvet “drapery dress” and Clark Gable’s green cape from Gone With the Wind
- Judy Garland’s blue checkered pinafore and white blouse from The Wizard of Oz
- Marilyn Monroe’s gold lamé gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
- Elizabeth Taylor’s strapless off-white gown from A Place in the Sun, which L.A. Times Magazine called “the prototype of the perfect debutante dress… the most copied dress of its time,” and Taylor’s ornate falcon headdress and jewelry from Cleopatra
- Ingrid Bergman’s cream evening dress from Casablanca
- Claudette Colbert’s gold velvet lamé embellished voluminous cape from Cleopatra
- Rita Hayworth’s black satin ball gown and long matching gloves from Gilda
- Errol Flynn’s tunic, tights, belt and cape from The Adventures of Don Juan
- Marlene Dietrich’s silk velvet evening gown and feather boa from Shanghai Express
- Humphrey Bogart’s blue pinstripe “Lucky Suit” from The Maltese Falcon
- Bob Hope’s cream and gold wool jacket from Road to Morocco
- Yul Brynner’s red brocade slippers from The King and I
- Gene Kelly’s black and beige satin striped cape from An American in Paris
- James Dean’s jeans and beige work shirt from Giant
- Audrey Hepburn’s white chiffon gown from Sabrina
- Peter Sellers’ gold silk smoking jacket from Prisoner of Zenda
- Madeline Kahn’s lavender crepe turban from Young Frankenstein
- Julie Andrews’ black & white crepe flapper dress from Thoroughly Modern Millie
- Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leather jacket, pants, t-shirt, belt and boots from Terminator 2
The collection also includes costumes worn by such film stars as Tallulah Bankhead, John Barrymore, Clara Bow, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Joan Crawford, Tom Cruise, Tony Curtis, Bette Davis, Doris Day, Farrah Fawcett, Henry Fonda, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Ryan O’Neal, Jack Palance, Vincent Price, Ginger Rogers, Jane Russell, Lana Turner, Rudolph Valentino and Mae West, among many others. Along with a half-dozen Mary Pickford dresses, gowns and other apparel personally given to John LeBold, a number of iconic props also populate the collection, including Charlie Chaplin’s bamboo cane used in many of his films, the jewel box and two tablets carried by Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, the Maltese Falcon statue from that film, and the golden idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark. There are also extensive mini-collections of personal effects from the estates of Cecil B. DeMille, Harold Lloyd, Agnes Moorehead and Tyrone Power. None of the costumes in the collection would exist without the vision and skill of their designers, which include the most original and award-winning talents in Hollywood history: among them, Adrian, Travis Banton, Donald Brooks, Edith Head, Rene Hubert, Dorothy Jeakins, Mitchell Leisen, Moss Mabry, Orry-Kelly, Walter Plunkett, Helen Rose, Irene Sharaff, Jean Louis, Travilla, Miles White and Elsa Zamparelli.
The Hollywood Legends Collection also features rare costume sketches; a formidable number of well-preserved title and lobby cards from the earliest years of Hollywood onward; oversized portraits and photographs, including vintage silver gelatin, double weight, matte finish and glossy photos; 8×10 portraits, most bearing the stamp or mark of the photographer; posters, whose early lithography is intense and spellbinding; press books and exhibitor campaign manuals; an extensive collection of movie magazines; a comprehensive film and theatre program inventory from the 1920s-70s; negatives; scripts; song sheets and other memorabilia. By his own admission, John LeBold was “addicted” to films. Childhood illnesses kept him indoors, and much of his time was spent in the theatres of New York City . Managers knew him by name. They were more than happy to give him the posters and lobby cards that he desired. “I was hooked,” LeBold said as he described a purchase at a second-hand store. It was a dress worn by Marlene Dietrich in the 1942 film Pittsburgh . He was just thirteen years old. In a trip to the store the next day he uncovered a suit worn by John Wayne in the same movie.
When LeBold moved to Hollywood , his passion for films became a vocation. He became a dresser and worked with eight-time Academy Award-winning costume designer Edith Head (All About Eve, A Place in the Sun, The Sting) on countless Hollywood productions. He personally knew Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, Jeanette MacDonald and many others. He had access to studio auctions and inventory sales. LeBold also became responsible for “rescuing” many costumes and preserving them for collectors to come. The sale of the Hollywood Legends Collection will benefit two charitable organizations:
- The Giving Back Fund – Founded in 1997 by historian and Holocaust scholar Marc Pollick, the Giving Back Fund (www.givingback.org) helps cultivate and consult a new generation of philanthropists within the entertainment and sports industries, with an emphasis on people of color, women, and youth, groups often underrepresented in traditional philanthropy. Its foundations and projects include those of actress Maria Bello, artist Michael Kalish and athletes Ben Roethlisberger, Yao Ming, Shawn Marion, Nancy Kerrigan, Justin Morneau and Roy Halladay. At the request of John LeBold, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Hollywood Legends Collection will specifically benefit animal rescue efforts.
- Americana Dance Theatre – Dedicated to preserving American folk history, Americana Dance Theatre (www.aimeeentertainment.com/americana.htm) was founded in 1972 by celebrated chanteuse Joyce Aimée. Owner of 20% of the Hollywood Legends Collection, having rescued some of its pieces herself, she is the agent of John LeBold under the auspices of her Aimée Entertainment. Along with 25 years of managing and producing the American Folk Ballet, as well as representing many acclaimed artists such as Agnes de Mille , Lee Theodore and the American Dance Machine and Oscar winning production designer and director Eugenio Zanetti. She has organized and produced exhibitions around the world including the critically acclaimed Demille Dynasty Exhibition documenting a century of contributions of one American family. She has also served for 15 years as Commissioner of the Arts in the County of Los Angeles and produced many award winning documentaries.