“It is the hardest thing I have ever done.”
Knowing that her life had included the public humiliation of losing a husband to Elizabeth Taylor, two more marriages that left her on the edge of financial ruin, a roller coaster of a screen and stage career, health issues and raising two children more or less on her own, I was a bit taken back by the firmness of Debbie Reynolds’ declaration.
She was talking about selling off her collection of Hollywood costumes and memorabilia that she had lovingly protected for 40 years, beginning in 1969 when Kirk Kerkorian bought MGM and installed Jim Aubrey to cut costs and budgets in search of profits. Ted Turner bought the film library, which left the studio grounds and all its holdings, including props, costumes, scripts and ephemera. Debbie had a plan. Passionate in her belief that movies were an art form worth celebrating and their treasures worth preserving, she arranged a $5-million loan to buy everything but the lot and urged Aubrey and Kerkorian to create a Disney-type mecca for film fans. She even volunteered “to man turnstile Number 3” once a week, but Debbie said that all Aubrey “could see in front of him was little Kathy Selden from ‘Singing in the Rain.’”
Instead, he sold everything to David Weisz to be auctioned off piece by piece.
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