Debbie Reynolds' obsession is good for Hollywood.
The legendary singer/actress and her foundation is negotiating a new home for her large collection of Hollywood costumes and set pieces with the TrizecHahn Corp., the company responsible for building the $500-million entertainment, dining and retail project currently in development on the historical Hollywood Boulevard.
The complex also will include the Kodak Theater, the new home for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science's Oscar presentation. The Reynolds collection would occupy the top floor.
Reynolds' collection has been in need of a permanent home since the 1997 shutdown of her Las Vegas casino and hotel. The collection includes Judy Garland's ruby slippers and gingham dress from The Wizard of Oz, and the white dress Marilyn Monroe wore in her famous subway scene in The Seven Year Itch.
Jack Illes, a spokesman for TrizecHahn, is excited about adding the collection to the project.
"We've got three beautiful old theaters around us, the Egyptian, the El Capitan and the Chinese and we're across the street from the Hollywood Roosevelt, where the first Academy were given out," he told Reuters. "This is really the touchstone of the motion picture industry in America."
The 20,000-square-foot Hollywood location represents "a dream come true," Reynolds, 69, told Reuters. "This is Hollywood's history. It's the only work I've known since I was 16. It's my family."
Reynolds' collection is worth millions of dollars, according to Todd Fisher, general manager of the foundation and Reynolds' son with crooner Eddie Fisher. She has amassed over 3,000 costumes from films from the Silent Era to the 1970s. Some other memorable collectibles are entire sets and costumes from the original Planet of the Apes (1968) and Gigi (1954), as well as her own classic film, Singin' in the Rain (1952).
When Reynolds displays her collection, it is in complete tableaus, as they appeared in the movies
"I didn't want to have just mannequins standing there," Reynolds said. "That would be boring."
The displays are often accompanied by video clips and voiceovers by Reynolds.
She can get pretty obsessive about tracking down items to complete the picture, Fisher told Reuters.
"It's no different from a collector of glasswork pieces or stamps," he said.
Well, not exactly.
Fisher did point out that his mother's "hobby" puts her through some financial difficulties, but it's a burden she has gladly endured.
"My mother goes in and out of being flush, depending on whether she's married or not," Fisher said. "If she hasn't been married for a while, she's pretty flush. But even if she's broke, she still has the ability to go out and earn $100,000 to $200,000 in a week."
And then there is the question of space. Even with the available 20,000 square foot, only 20% of the collection could be on display at any one time. The rest will need to go into storage.
She also has had little support from the Hollywood community, but does find donations here and there from unlikely sources. Elizabeth Taylor gave Reynolds a suit of armor that her late husband Richard Burton wore in Cleopatra. She also has joined the foundation board. Taylor, it should be noted, had a torrid relationship with Eddie Fisher when he was still married to Reynolds, and eventually stole him away. Clearly bygones are bygones.
If the deal goes through, Reynolds' collection would open at its new home on Nov. 8 and be known as the Hollywood Motion Picture Collection.