What piece of movie or TV memorabilia would you want to own? Say money is no object and everything is available. What Hollywood iconography would you be proud to display in your home?
The question is prompted by an auction in November of film memorabilia that includes the upright piano from “Casablanca”; the one on which Dooley Wilson as Sam played, “As Time Goes By.” The piano is expected to fetch seven figures (it sold for $602,500 when it sold at auction two years ago, Reuters reports). Also up for auction will be a final draft of the original screenplay and the letters of transit (“It seems that as long as I have those letters, I’ll never be lonely” Humphrey Bogart’s Rick sardonically notes at one dramatic point).
My former college roommate reportedly holds the largest private collection of memorabilia from “The Wizard of Oz.” He paid $80,000 more than two decades ago (outbidding a representative for Michael Jackson, who was only authorized to bid so high) for the hourglass that the Wicked Witch uses to count down Dorothy’s demise.
I am not a serious collector by any means. Back in the days when I had discretionary income, I amassed, among other things, theatrical posters, called one-sheets, for every Woody Allen movie up to “Manhattan” A three-sheet of “M*A*S*H” took up most of the ceiling of my college dorm. I have a precious piece of marketing promotion from The Marx Brothers’ “Animal Crackers.” And I have a flannel 1968 White Sox jersey (with the sesquicentennial patch) worn by pitcher Gary Peters, once my favorite player. I also still have all my old Rolling Stone magazines from 1967-1971.
Nostalgia for a favorite film or TV show is part of the appeal, as is owning rare or one-of-a-kind pieces of pop culture history. Sam’s piano is out of my price range, but one can fantasize. As long as we’re day-dreaming about turning the family room into Rick’s Café Americain, what other movie memorabilia would I like to own?
Talking Tina/To Serve Man: Two terrifying props from two favorite “Twilight Zone” episodes. The former is the killer doll with June (Rocky the flying squirrel) Foray’s voice. The latter—spoiler alert—is a cook book!
The Declaration of Principles: The elusive “Rosebud” from “Citizen Kane” is one of the most prized movie props (Steven Spielberg owns one), but I would prefer to have fledgling newspaper publisher Charles Foster Kane’s inaugural Enquirer front page with his promises to the readers. While we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind the snow globe that on his deathbed conjures up memories of his precious childhood sled.
The “Dick Van Dyke” show ottoman: If I could have one prop from my favorite TV show, it would be the signature piece over which Dick Van Dyke tripped in the early seasons’ opening credits. I think it would be creepy to own Laura Petrie’s capris pants, so let’s just go with the ottoman.
The out-of-this-world gems from the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still”
The red phone box from “Local Hero”: My dream piece from this underseen gem about a Texas oil man who becomes enthralled to the Scottish town he was sent to buy as the site for a refinery. The phone booth plays a pivotal role, especially in the film’s bittersweet coda. But how could I uproot this treasured tourist attraction from Pennan, where the movie was filmed, and to where thousands annually still make pilgrimages?
Your turn: If you could own any movie or TV prop, costume, or memorabilia, what would it be?