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Where do costumes / clothing go years after shooting ends?


KidChaplin
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This probably seems like an "out there" question, but I was wondering if anyone knows where costumes from movies and TV go when the show or movies are done. I know there are auctions for things like this and collectors have some of it, but I mean the many years of costuming and large amounts in movies. For example, a silent movie like Buster Keaton's, "The General". Where did all of those Civil War soldiers costumes go? In TV, say like Little House on the Prairie, where did all of their clothing go from all those years? Do studios give them to the Salvation Army or thrift stores after awhile? Are the studios still hanging on to some of them? I know there are studio warehouses for props and scenery, but I couldn't imagine where all the costumes went! Thanks!

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What triggered the question was when I have seen old movies with hundreds of soldiers and wondered what happened to all of those costumes after shooting, plus I just read something of Stan Laurel who commented that he had packed up some of his old costumes and sent them to the Salvation Army. I can't imagine how cool it would be to buy a coat or something off of a rack that was once worn by Stan Laurel. Or any other major star for that matter. 

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What triggered the question was when I have seen old movies with hundreds of soldiers and wondered what happened to all of those costumes after shooting, plus I just read something of Stan Laurel who commented that he had packed up some of his old costumes and sent them to the Salvation Army. I can't imagine how cool it would be to buy a coat or something off of a rack that was once worn by Stan Laurel. Or any other major star for that matter. 

 

A funny story related to costumes is for the Gary Cooper \ Loretta Young film Along Came Jones.   Cooper was the executive producer of this film,  a light comedy western.

 

The costume designer was seeking to get Cooper's approval for Young's outfits.  Copper saw the estimate and said something along the lines of 'that is way to expensive,   the character is just an average ranch gal,,,,  go to the second hand store and get the outfits'. 

 

That is what the designer did and those are the outfits Young wore in the film.   Just goes to show that when an actor is on the other side of the wall,  cost matter!

 

(PS:  Don't know what was done with those outfits but my guess is that they were sold back to the second hand store,  ha ha).

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A story similar to the Cooper, but completely opposite. David Niven liked to tell of his business naivete upon getting involved in TV production with Four Star in the early '50s. He told of a leading lady coming to him and saying she had no dress to wear in this week's episode. Niven replied, "Well run down to Saks and get one".

 

But he learned... Supposedly he once drew out his entire savings on a Friday to meet a Four Star payroll.

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During the most recent round of infinite between-movie promotions for the Bonham's auction, I saw a good hundred times the story of a woman who bought, I think it was Kim Novak's gray suit outfit from Vertigo off a thrift-store rack, not having any idea what it was. Apologies if it wasn't that movie - if not, it was something equally iconic. So, I guess it does happen.

 

There was a really good article some months back in Smithsonian magazine about a guy in the costume department at MGM who, despite having been ordered to destroy duplicate items from The Wizard of Oz like the ruby slippers, simply walked out of the studio with a lot of that stuff. I don't remember the exact year, late '60s, early '70s, whenever MGM had a great auction of a lot of that stuff as the studio era was coming to an end. His motives weren't entirely altruistic. He wanted to preserve film history, yes, but he also made a tremendous profit. 

 

I feel (admittedly without proof) that a lot of this stuff that TCM endlessly hawks every year for the Bonham's auction was at one time stolen or pilfered from a studio lot.

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This isn't exactly years after this movie ended shooting (in fact, it's been only about a year), but I know for a fact that actor Ryan Reynolds walked off the set of his movie "Deadpool" with the iconic Deadpool suit. His reasoning for this, was that he waited 10 years to wear it (as the film was evidently in the works for approximately a decade). I found this info rather humorous. 

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This isn't exactly years after this movie ended shooting (in fact, it's been only about a year), but I know for a fact that actor Ryan Reynolds walked off the set of his movie "Deadpool" with the iconic Deadpool suit. His reasoning for this, was that he waited 10 years to wear it (as the film was evidently in the works for approximately a decade). I found this info rather humorous. 

 

And speaking of a "Reynolds", and of course no relation to Ryan...Debbie had quite the collection of movie costumes for a while...

 

http://tomandlorenzo.com/2011/06/debbie-reynolds-auctions-movie-memorabilia-today/

 

(...smart woman that Debbie...pickin' those up back when nobody thought they'd ever be worth all that much)

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Many actors wear their own clothes on lower budget films. THIS IS SPIÑAL TAP, comes to mind.

 

Debbie Reynolds had the foresight to buy what she felt were Hollywood icon costumes. It cost her many years of angst and she lost several hundred thousand dollars trying to keep that collection intact & safe.

Textiles are terribly difficult to maintain and store properly-especially when they have beads or fur ornamentation. 

 

I was lucky enough to see a traveling exhibit of Hollywood costumes a few years ago and some were in a terrible state of disrepair. I would hope these showings raise much needed funds for their storage & conservation. 

 

The worst costume story I ever heard was when Marilyn Monroe died she left all of her personal clothing to Lee Strasburg. Strasburg had such little regard for this, it was all hauled to the Rescue Mission/Salvation Army (whichever) thrift store in NYC.

Can you imagine?

 

Luckily, Debbie Harry (of Blondie) knew about it and scoured the thrift stores for anything of MM's. She scored a few brassieres, and more notably, a dress MM wore in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH.

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Many actors wear their own clothes on lower budget films.

 

And for some actors it's the other way around. According to Frank Capra, it was written into Glenn Ford's contract for Pocketful of Miracles that "all costumes, wardrobe, and clothing worn by Mr. Ford during production will become the personal property of Mr. Ford upon completion of shooting."

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I would imagine most just go back into the wardrobe warehouse.  Any special made costumes probably wind up personal property of whomever wore whatever in some movie and becomes the property of their survivors upon their deaths.  And likely auctioned off later on, or if the piece is iconic enough, winds up at The Smithsonian.  Like Fonzie's leather jacket or Archie Bunker's chair.

 

 

Sepiatone

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