Nov 21, 2014 OZ on The Block!
Here in New York City yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the first day of Bonhams’ open-to-the-public display of some 370-plus items it’ll auction next Monday in the Turner Classic Movies THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOLLYWOOD sale. Beautifully mounted, classily lit, and extraordinarily accessible, the goods were right out there to be enjoyed, studied, and marveled-at. I was no slouch in any of those departments, especially when it came to Judy Garland’s green velvet “Better Luck Next Time” dress from EASTER PARADE and -- supremely! – the sixteen lots of memorabilia related to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s 1939 production of THE WIZARD OF OZ.
Bonhams has bedecked both a spacious room and a long, wide hallway/gallery with posters, costumes, and memorabilia: scripts, letters, memos, paintings, set and wardrobe sketches, autographed and random photos, and on and on. The Garland gown is – not surprisingly – the first item on view as one leaves the lower level entry foyer; the latter area kicks everything off as the temporary, happy home of a raft of creepy, crawly, and wonderfully yucky sci fi/creature-feature figures and placards.
But the OZ merchandise is set up in its own alcove – all to itself, actually, across the entire end area of the long hallway -- with a central glass case that proudly boasts the restored Cowardly Lion costume from the film. To its right, there are Munchkin soldier and Munchkin fiddler jackets, an Emerald “Citizian” jacket, and a Winged Monkey prototype capelet. To the left stands a mannequin which bears a Judy Garland dress and pinafore, originally modeled by the sixteen-year-old star on October 31, 1938. (Though not seen in the finished film, the combination costume was tested during a transition period in principal photography -- after the powers-that-be discarded Judy’s blonde and frilly Dorothy Gale persona in favor of a more natural look and outfit for the Kansas farm girl.)
Side cases are filled with (among other items) the Witch Remover spray gun, borne into the Haunted Forest during the film by the Cowardly Lion; Bert Lahr’s copy of the OZ script, as well as a couple of autographed Lahr photos; the OZ premiere program from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood (August 15, 1939); and a Winkie Guard spearhead. There’s also a huge, magnificent, three-sheet poster for the film’s first re-release in 1949.
Further signifying the historical preeminence, pop culture standing, and cross-generational appeal of OZ, its “area” at Bonhams is augmented by piped-in excerpts from the film’s soundtrack score: Judy’s “Over the Rainbow,” Bert’s “If I Were King of the Forest,” and the group chorus of “We’re Off to See the Wizard.”
Such an Ozzy concentration of remarkable collectibles was wondrous to behold in its majesty, in the awe-inspiring simplicity of its presentation, and in the obvious prominence it was accorded -- especially under the surrounding circumstances. CASABLANCA, GONE WITH THE WIND, Alfred Hitchcock, Marilyn Monroe, and countless other iconic titles and figures are strikingly represented in the Bonhams/TCM mélange of material. But OZ remains the focal point and the emotional center of the exhibition -- as it will, I’m sure, during Monday’s auction.
For any who are in (or will be traveling to) New York City this weekend, Bonhams’ display of all of this magic is accessible, free-of-charge, on Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon until 5 p.m., and on Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The auction itself then begins at 1. Bonhams is located at East 56th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
For any further-afield, arm-chair browsers, I’m happy to add that the auction catalog also is available online. Simply Google or Search: Bonhams TCM There’s No Place Like Hollywood. All the merchandise is illustrated and described; price estimates are offered; and, for you rich-ies, there’s information on bidding, as well.
The OZ lots are # 127 through # 142. (The Garland EASTER PARADE dress is # 103, if you’re looking for my Christmas present….)
I’m pretty sure you’ll find it so; it certainly was yesterday!
Please Google: Bonhams…TCM Presents … There’s No Place Like Hollywood
Article by John Fricke