Whatever Happened To

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There are certain props in entertainment that you never forget. They become so much of your life and your heart that the mere memory of them calls up visions, feelings and scenes to play over and over in your head. Those are the movie props that transcend just the need to collect and be put in someone’s vault at the MGM studios, but are important enough that everyone should know where they are. These items aren’t just part of a picture; they are part of our common heritage, our culture and our joy. But, where are they?

There’s No Place Like Home

Ask anyone who saw the 1939 version of the Wizard of Oz what is the most vivid image they remember and they will tell you one of two things: The witch scrawling “Surrender Dorothy” in the sky, or the brilliant red ruby slippers tapping their heels as Dorothy remembers there is no place like home. Where are the slippers now? There were 6 pairs of slippers made for the movie, 5 of them for Judy Garland and one made for a stunt double. Of the actual 5 for the movie, one set resides in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC and are available for public view. Three other pairs have changed hands many times and been auctioned repeatedly (one selling at Christie’s auction house in 2000 for $666,000) and now belong to private collectors. One pair was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and remains at large.

The Black Bird

Sam Spade, everyone’s favorite private eye took to the streets of San Francisco looking for the Maltese Falcon and some folks have been wondering where it is ever since. There was originally only one Maltese falcon made for the production but it was dented in filming and several resin falcons were produced to finish production. The original falcon is on display in the Warner Brother’s museum and available for viewing. 4 other falcons are privately owned and displayed at various venues. At one time its auction price of nearly $386,000 was one of the highest paid in the world. In February of 2007 the official replica of the falcon used in publicity stills was stolen from the second floor vault of a San Francisco restaurant where it was being displayed.

Rosebud

Charles Foster Kane lay on his opulent death bed wanting Rosebud. The mystery of its identity consumed the movie Citizen Kane, considered by many to be one of the best films ever produced. As we watch Charles Kane start out with good intentions and end a rich, morally bankrupt egoist we too can’t image what Rosebud might be. At the very end we are rewarded and humbled to know it was simply his boyhood sled a symbol of the innocence he had which was thrown into a fire. There were three sleds made for the movie, but two of them were destroyed by fire for the filming of the pivotal scene. The third Rosebud is owned by a private collector who paid $60, 500 for it in 1982. There is a solace in knowing the collector is someone likely to take very good care of it, and leave it to the legacy of film when the time comes. The collector is none other than Steven Spielberg.

Movie props go overlooked by movie goers all the time. But when they themselves become characters, it’s good to know they have found good homes.

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