Guest Author - Amber Grey
As a self-proclaimed "movie-a-holic", actress Debbie Reynolds career has expanded six decades starring in many classic films such as "Singin In The Rain" (1952), "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" (1964) and "The Singing Nun" (1966). What is more impressive is Reynolds passion to keep the artifacts of some of the most famous films in history alive.
It was in 1972 when the studios of the Golden Age, such as MGM and Warner Bros., were being taken over by businessmen not filmmakers. The new management decided to strip the studios of all their history. Or it seemed like it to most people, including Reynolds.
"To them it's a lot of junk and a lot of nothing to bother with, so they didn't bother with it, and many people that cared purchased it." Reynolds said at the time.
The new management ended up auctioning off priceless film history artifacts such as one of the blue gingham dresses Judy Garland wore in "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) or even one of Charlie Chaplin's famous bowler hats he donned as "The Tramp." It was then that Reynolds started using her personal funds to start a collection of movie memorabilia to one day house them in a museum for future generations to see in person. She created the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum, a non-profit corporation to preserve the collection's contents as well as continually add contributions. The collection was known for having 4,000 costumes alone including Marilyn Monroe's white halter dress from the comedy "The Seven Year Itch" (1955) and Elizabeth Taylor's gold dress worn in the epic star vehicle "Cleopatra" (1963).
In 1993, it seemed like Reynolds had the opportunity to put part of the collection on display. She opened the Debby Reynolds Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and exhibited part of the collection in the Hotel for guests to enjoy. Unfortunately, 4 years later the venture made Reynolds bankrupt in which she was forced to close the casino and put the collection back into storage.
It was not until 2001, when it seemed like Reynolds dream was finally going to be a reality. The Hollywood Motion Picture Museum found a prime piece of real estate in the heart of downtown Hollywood. But yet again, financing became a problem and Reynolds was forced to think of another location. In 2004, it was agreed upon the location in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee near Dolly Parton's amusement park, Dollywood. But that idea fell through as well, citing to financial problems.
In 2011, at the age of 79, Reynolds was forced to give up on her dream of ever finding investors to help build her museum. The collection topped at 5000 pieces and were auctioned from the Paley Center in Beverly Hills, California.
"Over the years, I have literally spent millions of dollars protecting it and taking care of it. If you were me, wouldn't you give up after 35 years?" Reynolds said in an interview to promote the auction. One thing that cannot be argued with, is that Reynolds made a valiant effort to give the country and the world a priceless experience into film history.
However, it is all too sad to think that the right miracle did not come along to help her fulfill her dream.