The Jimmy Stewart Museum…and Ava Gardner’s Plight Too!

A little while ago I posted about the Jimmy Stewart Museum needing donations to remain open and viable. Of course, it still needs a helping hand and I hope that donations keep on coming. It would be a real tragedy to see such a wonderful collection sold off to private collectors. Speaking of which…

Just about everyone has heard about the Debbie Reynolds auction. Her vast and very impressive collection of movie memorabilia was originally collected to start a Hollywood museum. Unfortunately, this never happened, however I was very saddened to read this paragraph (towards the end of the article that I’ll be posting below) about her reaction to a genuine request from the Ava Gardener museum.

The museum’s slim operating budget — about $115,000 — is supplemented by sales from a small gift shop whose items range from magnets and movies to jars of Ava Gardner brand pickled asparagus and okra. Given those financial constraints, it will be a stretch for the museum’s directors to realize their dream of acquiring two of Ms. Gardner’s costumes — a dress she wore in “Showboat” and a safari suit from “Mogambo” — which are expected to be sold at auction this year by Debbie Reynolds, the very much alive Hollywood legend. For decades Ms. Reynolds amassed a collection of movie memorabilia and twice tried unsuccessfully to establish her own museum. This year she began selling much of her cache. “We went to Debbie Reynolds,” Ms. Bailey-Taylor said, “and asked: ‘Wouldn’t you like to loan them to us? We promise to take good care of them.’ She said no. Then we asked if she would sell them to us privately so we didn’t have to compete with collectors with much deeper pockets. But that wasn’t possible either. So we’re going to have to bid at the auction.”

Movie Star Museums

Now, here’s a woman who supposedly is broken-hearted that HER idea of a museum honoring Hollywood and its costumes and props never came to fruition, however, she’ll deny the Ava Gardner museum their chance to acquire the two costumes without competing with private bidders. Hell, Ms. Reynolds could have given them to the Ava Gardner museum. Would it have really hurt her THAT much to do so? After all, these TWO costumes would be going to a place where they’d be displayed for the public to enjoy, a place similar to the one  that she supposedly wanted to create herself. Now I’m skeptical…it seems Ms. Reynolds’ “dream” was always all about the money…and still is!

Read All About The Ava Gardener Costumes HERE

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “The Jimmy Stewart Museum…and Ava Gardner’s Plight Too!

  1. PGreen

    I’ve always doubted Debbie Reynolds’ motives Michelle. How petty not to loan these costumes or give them the first opportunity to buy them. If she genuinely cared for the Hollywood legacy she wouldn’t want these costumes ending up in a private collection and out of view of the public. But it seems she wants to sell them to the highest bidder.

  2. PGreen

    By the way that’s a beautiful portrait of Ava Gardner.

  3. Moderator

    Exactly, Paul. I’m absolutely disgusted by this revelation. Ava Gardner is one of her peers, in the grand scheme of things, and with the total she garnered from the sale of all her items, these two costume pieces were pocket change. The Ava Gardner museum would have placed a plaque with the display to recognize her generosity, but no, it’s all about the money. You want them, you bid with everyone else! There’s no sentimentality or compassion in her at all. She’s really shown her true colors. Some legacy to leave behind, huh?!

  4. betty1114

    Very sad to hear that Debbie Reynolds wouldn’t give or sell the outfits. As she is getting up in years I would like to think it is a leak in the brain cell rather than being greedy. Were her reasons ever stated publicly?

  5. It always angers me when someone from the Golden Age of Hollywood acts the way Ms. Reynolds is acting. I would also like to know if she has ever given any reasons why? The Ava Gardner Museum is not asking her to “give” The Costumes to them just let them purchase them privately. Why would she say No?

  6. Pingback: The Jimmy Stewart and Ava Gardner Museums need Help « starhistorian

  7. Moderator

    She said “NO!” because she wanted the most money she could get for each lot, no matter who bought them. She bought these costumes for a pittance, the two Ava Gardner items were a couple of thousand dollars each. At the very least she should have sold them at the opening estimate, and even then they would have to scrape together the money via donations to purchase them. What should have been done was for the two lots to be gifted to the museum. It’s an absolute disgrace that they weren’t!

  8. Diane

    It seems she had dealt with the Ava Gardner museum a few years ago, loaning costumes and other items for their Show Boat exhibit. Who knows if some bad blood developed between the two parties from back then… nonetheless, working with the museum to preserve Ava’s costumes for public display seems to fit in with the mission she started all those years ago at the MGM auction when she began to amass the bulk of her collection. It’s all very unfortunate… and really does not reflect on her well at all.

    • I had no idea about the past experience with Ms. Reynolds and the Ava Gardner Museum. I agree it doesn’t reflect good on her especially if she wants to get rid of the costumes anyway.

  9. Erika

    If we pooled our $$ could we get them? sigh.. I suppose not the whole Retro Trend has priced us out… I feel so forgotten when the “Stars” forget that it was us poor working class peoples who paid our saved up pennies to see their films & made them popular “Stars” in the first place… On a happier note one of our in store play CD’s is Doris Day.. Of course I did tell our Movies/Music Manager that if he looped que ser ra ser ra again I would kill him it was 10AM..

  10. Moderator

    LOL @ Doris Day story 🙂

    Yeah, it’s a shame that Ms. Reynolds feels that the museum, the place where these costumes belong, didn’t deserve to have them. If it were a massively high-priced item, I could understand her saying no, but these two pieces were collectively valued at about $4,000 to $5,000. As I said earlier, it’s pocket change in the grand scheme of what she earned for all the items in total. If her realization of a Hollywood museum didn’t come to fruition, wouldn’t she feel somewhat good about certain items going to public display, in her name, to individual museums honoring individual stars…her peers? You would think. It’s all about the dollar signs. Everything to the highest bidder, not necessarily to their rightful homes.

  11. PGreen

    To be honest the families of the designers of these costumes deserve the money far more than an actor or actress who wore them. Surely they were just work-for-hire. Talk about inflated egos.

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