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Collecting Autographs Advice


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Hello All, so I had the crazy idea of wanting to have autographs from stars that are still with us by mailing in letters asking for their signatures. Is there a particular way to find how to do this? Is it really their's? Because I wanted to write Doris Day but I hear her secretary signs them, any advice would be appreciated.

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As a friendly suggestion, I found, BasilBruce, that if the star has written an autobiography, that it's probably best to read it first to get a real feeling for where they come from before writing to them.

 

As an example of that, I once wrote a rather gushy you-were-the-greatest fan letter to Marlene Dietrich, with an accompanying photo of her asking for her to autograph it. No reply.

 

Afterward, I read a small book that she wrote about herself, in which she came across as being quite frank and down-to-earth. I then wrote an entirely different letter to her in tone, clearly a reflection of her book. I received an autographed photo within two weeks.

 

Likewise, before writing to Jane Russell, I read her autobiography. She was extremely down-to-earth and unaffected, and my letter to her was complimentary, of course, but reflected her attitude. She not only returned three photos I had sent her autographed, but threw in a fourth with an amusing comment, as well as a wonderful letter telling me how my letter was one that she would keep, adding that few others she received from fans fell into that category.

 

Obviously. it always comes down to the individual but, certainly with these two ladies, it worked.

 

 

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Avoid writing to Doris Day! Why would anyone want a photo or letter signed by the secretary? OMG, it could be signed by her maid far as anyone knows. Best to have autographs signed in person.

 

Actor Hugh Jackman signing autographs, they know it's REAL!

 

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Star Trek star Nichelle Nichols signing autographs for her fans.

 

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Edited by: hamradio on Mar 25, 2014 12:19 PM

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  • 5 years later...

My brother recently acquired two ULTRA-RARE autographed scripts from the 1950's.  I told him I would investigate proper storage and preservation options.  Any opinions or fact based knowledge on how to preserve these pieces of history?  I want to make sure this is done correctly because they are each one of a kind.  If anyone knows what I need to do or where I need to turn to find out what I need to do please don't hesitate to speak up.  I will be evaluating all options.

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Make sure any and all material used to store these items is in acid free, archival material. Try not to handle the material without proper gloves. Oils, dirt, etc can get on them and hasten their decomposition.

Always remember, we never own collectibles we are merely the custodians of the material until they are passed on to the next person.

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10 hours ago, Looney said:

Any opinions or fact based knowledge on how to preserve these pieces of history?

Yes. I am not only a "qualified conservator" but an autograph collector.

It's always good policy to handle paper using lightweight cotton gloves. They are cheap & readily available. Latex gloves are ok in a pinch.

Acid free materials are needed as barriers both in storage and framing, also inexpensive & easy to find in any art supply store. A/F foam core is a better backing than a/f cardboard because it's more likely to stay flat.

That said, I have my framed autographs on dark walls (like in a corner) with only ambient light exposure. I frame them using archival glass which is expensive. Not to be confused with "non glare" glass which is kind of textured or "frosted" but archival glass, which has multi-levels built into it to diffuse direct light. The only consolation is the piece of glass needed is small for publicity photos. Movie posters...no way.

Sadly my most coveted autograph by Gloria Swanson in 1986, was signed using a black marker pen. The signature is fading away from a chemical reaction. I once bought my brother a movie still from his favorite Robert Mitchum movie on ebay. When it arrived, I found it was autographed by Mitchum on the back! My brother then gifted me HIS Mitchum autograph, a 5x7 which he requested by a fan letter in the 70's. The signatures were identical, in ball point pen.

When getting an autograph at a concert, I'd have the artist sign my t-shirt, then embroider over the line. Harry Chapin loved that and signed one t-shirt several times with different song references, one was BANANAS!

Another tip: I have my autographs signed "to Sue" so they know it's really for me, not to resell (there are people who do that)

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26 minutes ago, NipkowDisc said:

I got some autographs...

1. Dean Martin

2. Eva Gabor

3. Dom Deluise

I've interviewed a lot of current celebrities but, I actually got to interview 3 real MGM Golden Age stars and get their autographs:

And of course they were all stars in the musicals:

Mickey Rooney

Lena Horne &

Ann Miller.

( But the biggest thrill was watching Ann Miller warm-up those jingle taps on stage!)

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This is an interesting thread. I particularly like what was said about reading the autobiographies to get a sense of how the star thinks, and what their real-life attitude might be towards fame.

While I've never been an autograph hound, I do like to send emails to various celebrities if I feel there is something worthwhile to say. Not just a note gushing but a friendly conversational note. I have a high percentage rate of success with this. I do this with producers as well as actors. Sometimes it's more fun to hear back from a producer, because it becomes more of a business-type connection.

Typically I don't email someone unless I've read a recent newspaper or magazine interview they've done. Where I know they were willing to discuss subject x, y or z. Sometimes my note is just an observation about a comment they made in the interview; or it's an insight about what they said and how it caused me to realize something. I do think that most people in show biz like to make meaningful connections, where they can, time permitting. 

It is fun when they share something more than you anticipated they would. Once I sent a note to Cybill Shepard and I don't even remember what I said. But I know I didn't ask for anything. She sent a publicity photo from one of the shows she did that I said I enjoyed. This was years after the show had gone off the air and was not being syndicated anymore. So it was nice to get that photo. Maybe it was just someone in her office being kind to me, but I always remembered it, because it told me there was a level of respect Cybill and her production company had towards her fans.

Sincerity is always the best way to go about these communications. And of course, you can't really expect a response. But if you do get a response, then you know you did connect properly.

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I just remembered a bad experience I had with someone I sent a note to...I have to share this, because it's kind of funny looking back on it now. But at the time, it wasn't pleasant.

There was a Hollywood writer I had heard about. In fact, I had an in-person discussion with some producers who had employed said writer. During the course of that lengthy discussion, they revealed a bit too much about the writer. I was young and naive and took what they said at face value.

One comment they made about the writer was that he struggled with his homosexuality, which I didn't think was such a big deal. There are lots of gay or closeted writers. 

Anyway a short time later I found an address for the writer. I told him I admired his writing style, asked for some pointers about writing certain kinds of scripts. And I made the fatal mistake of referencing his sexuality, asking how he chooses to write gay characters. Fortunately, I did not tell him about the producers (his ex-employers) I had spoken with...because I think that would have caused more problems.

About two weeks later I get this very mean-spirited letter from him. He ignored all my comments about his writing style and about writing for the screen. He zeroed in on the gay remark I made. He told me in his reply that I was audacious for letting him know that I knew he was gay. He wanted to know how I found out his secret, and if I was pleased with myself for obtaining such knowledge about his personal life. It was very paranoid. He was clearly in the closet, still uncomfortable with that part of his identity...and my rather innocent letter to him was seen by him as a threat.

I shared that response with various friends of mine who agreed he was overreacting. I remember thinking, if he was that unnerved about being gay and people knowing, why would he write back to me at all. Wouldn't he just ignore me and not validate any of it? So sometimes you do have to watch what you say when you're sending a note to someone you admire. I no longer admired him after that experience. I think his beef should have been with the people in the biz who were talking about him, not a neophyte like me whose mistake was not being more sensitive.

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On 7/3/2019 at 10:11 PM, yanceycravat said:

Always remember, we never own collectibles we are merely the custodians of the material until they are passed on to the next person.

WOW!  Thanks for all the responses.  I have many collectibles and a meager autograph collection, but what my brother purchased is beyond most anything I have so I want to be certain things are done correctly.  As yanceycravat said above, "we are merely custodians".  That is definitely true for what my brother bought.  He bought real pieces of history, not just a signature.

So glad I revived this thread because I will be coming back to it.  My next question might be about spotting forgeries. ;)  (And how you find addresses to mail a request letter in this day and age?)

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All I got is an autograph from B.B. KING.  And I wasn't even the one who got it!  

My older daughter's boyfriend(at the time, early '90's) knew I was a fan, and he worked for a local music store that also supplied some sound equipment for Detroit's CHENE PARK AMPHITHEATER( now the ARETHA FRANKLIN Amphitheater) and was moving PA speakers and monitors around and took a bit of time to ask B.B. for the signature.  I have it framed in a glass covered 8x10 picture frame( it's on a piece of paper that size) hanging still on my living room wall, away from windows,exposure to damp air or anything else that might negatively affect it.

Sepiatone

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Since many of my favourite stars passed away before I had the ability to put pen to paper I have written to a couple of their (now adult) children to tell them how I felt about their parents.

Rory Flynn sent me a very gracious reply by email, and I was pleased that she had so enjoyed my tribute to her Dad. I pretty much said to her what I would have written to good ol' Errol, if I had had the opportunity. Some of you may remember Rory being interviewed by Robert Osborne a few of years ago in a night's tribute to her father on TCM.

Of course, when you are in the world of emails there are no autographs. I included my email address in my letter to her in case she was more inclined to respond that way which, let's face it, is a lot easier and quicker than a formal note or letter. Doesn't seem quite as personal, though, does it?

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1 hour ago, Sepiatone said:

All I got is an autograph from B.B. KING.

I have my own B.B King story!

He was performing at a Blues Festival at the Tuolumne County Fairgrounds in Sonora, CA. I was working at the historic Sonora Inn's restaurant as a baker, and many of the musicians were staying there.

While I was preparing my baked goods for the day (around 3am), the front desk clerk walked into the restaurant kitchen and animatedly told me B.B. King called the front desk and wanted to know if we had any cinnamon rolls made yet. As it turns out, that was the exact dough I was working on at the time and they were already rising on top of the oven, so it wasn't going to be any longer than a half-hour before they were ready.

So we sent a few up to his room along with coffee. He sent a Thank you note down to the front desk, also writing that the rolls were delicious, along with a $20 tip. The clerk and I fought over the note for a few hours, but he was a manager so I really didn't stand a chance of winning that one. He did give me the $20, though.

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paul newman autographs are really ultra-rare while john wayne autographs are plentiful because duke was such a swell guy...

newman not because he couldn't be bothered and that is a true measure of a man, his consideration for others.

lets see a shot of big man newman doing this...

Image result for john wayne signing autograph

 

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In 1980 John Lennon took the time to sign an autograph for The Man Who Would assassinate him-- a few days before his murder in front of the Dakota in New York City.

After this occurred, I would understand why many celebrities and famous people might be cautious or concerned about giving autographs to strangers.

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Yeah, it sure is a different world than the one Duke held dear.

I have 2 William Shatner signatures-first one was a gift from decades ago, on a photo of him as Captain Kirk.  The other requested in person (to Susan!) last year on a book jacket. Shatner's signature has changed through the years, as it does for all of us, but you can definitely tell they're authentic, written by the same person.

Always research & view other examples of the person's autographs before purchasing!

Here's a photo of a north facing corner with my "Glorias & Georges" autographs:27495479_GGcorner.thumb.jpg.1c6fee1609fef154f5a9e748ec76b2ed.jpg

And a close up of the faded Gloria Swanson autograph:

 

It says "Greetings" "Well Being" and her name & date. I was 17 when I met her and we talked about health-she was fascinating- and thrilled someone my age even cared about her. Now you all know why my avatar is her smoking a doob-too funny!

Please note that each photo is matted & framed. Matting holds the glass away from the paper-very important!  Glass is not a solid, but a liquid, albeit a very slow moving liquid, that "breathes". Moisture can pass through glass and permanently damage the surface of paper, and be absorbed by the backing.

I open, clean the glass & replace matt/backing of all my framed pictures every decade or so. You can't imagine how much dust & smoke damage I find when cleaning artwork from a "smoking" household.

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I don't know whatever became of it, but back in the very early, pre BLOCKBUSTER video store days, I went into the one we usually rented from, and in the back there was a PORN STAR situated in back, out of sight, where she was selling( for a mere $5 ) autographed photos.  The autograph was free if you bought her latest tape.  So I asked her to sign the photo: 

"To Ken....thanks for all the wonderful nights on the beach!"  ;)  

Never did see the movie she was promoting....  :(

Sepiatone

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These are stars who autographed their books for me:

Kirk Douglas

Charlton Heston

Tony Curtis

Robert Vaughn

Darlene Love (singer of "He's A Rebel" and appeared in "Lethal Weapon" movies")

Michael Palin of Monty Python fame

Betsy Blair (ex wife of Gene Kelly and Oscar nominee for "Marty")

Gene Hackman

Grace Jones (singer and Bond villainess in "A View To A Kill")

Mary Wilson of the Supremes

Here are some stars I met at autograph shows and got signed pictures:

Ingrid Pitt -from Hammer horror films

Frank Gorshin

Hazel Court-another from Hammer films

Anne Francis

Kent McCord

David Hedison ("The Fly" and "Live And Let Die")

Candace Hilligoss (from "Carnival Of Souls")

Linda Blair

At a Dark Shadows convention in 1988:

Jonathan Frid (Barnabas)

Lara Parker (Angelique)

Roger Davis (Jeff Clark)

 

I think my most prized autograph is one I got from Peanuts creator Charles M Schulz, I was 10 years old and I sent several letters to him and got a few pictures of the Peanuts gang. I sent some drawings of mine to him and finally got an type written letter from him with his autograph. He said it was good to hear from me again and said that the pictures looked real good.

 

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48 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

These are stars who autographed their books for me:

Kirk Douglas

Charlton Heston

Tony Curtis

Robert Vaughn

Darlene Love (singer of "He's A Rebel" and appeared in "Lethal Weapon" movies")

Michael Palin of Monty Python fame

Betsy Blair (ex wife of Gene Kelly and Oscar nominee for "Marty")

Gene Hackman

Grace Jones (singer and Bond villainess in "A View To A Kill")

Mary Wilson of the Supremes

 

That's a lot of book signings you attended, Detective McCloud. I only went to one, but maybe this is the time to revive my earlier written account of the time I saw Kirk Douglas in Toronto. My apologies to any who read it before.

 

Well, I sort of met Kirk at a book signing in 2002, and let me assure you his 5'9" days were long behind him then. But getting smaller as we age is something we can all look forward to (some of us there already, I'm sure).

By the way Kirk told the crowd there a few anecdotes, and one of them was in regard to the depression he felt after his stroke. Things got so bad, in fact, that he put a gun in his mouth one day. However, as he did so the gun banged a tooth, and the pain was so bad he quickly withdrew the gun. Kirk laughed about the fact that that sudden toothache saved his life.

The book that Kirk was promoting was My Stroke of Luck.

Everyone at the store signing paid $25 in advance for Douglas' book, then we were able to get an autograph. But the store was so crowded. There were hundreds there, much to my dismay, and it got hot, really hot waiting for Kirk to appear, as in shoulder to shoulder contact with one another.

I was in about the middle of the crowd, wondering how nuts I was to go through this. Anyway, Kirk finally arrived on a platform, accompanied by Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. Michael said a few nice things about his Dad, and, I believe, Catherine said a few things too. Kirk gave his anecdotes then sat down as the book signing began.

Well, no one could get near Douglas. He was on a platform at a desk signing away as people would hand their books up to the big security boys on the platform who passed them on to Kirk. People further back in the room, such as where I was, had to pass their book to the person in front of them who would pass it to the one in front of him, etc. till it got to the platform, then, after getting the big KD autograph, it would be passed hand to hand back to the owner.

Well, I was still well back from the platform and watched my book get passed hand to hand up to the platform. I saw Kirk sign it then the book was passed back to one of the people by the platform. Hand over hand I saw it coming back in my direction and then - suddenly - it was gone!

I'm looking around and starting to sweat and my $25 paid for Kirk Douglas autographed book just got pocketed by someone in the crowd ahead of me! I'm surrounded by heads of people looking for their own book to come back. Then I spot another signed copy coming back in my direction and, quicker than Kirk was in those Spartacus battle scenes, I jumped in the air and snagged the book for myself.

Sorry if someone there lost out on a signed copy of the book they paid for. I was just determined that that someone wasn't going to be me!

After getting the book I squeezed myself out of the crowd and just watched the book signing from a distance. After a while I noticed that security was putting up some yellow tape along the left side of the room. Everyone else was still looking up at the platform where Kirk was and not paying much attention.

However, I had a hunch about that taped off section so moved over to the tape. Sure enough about 15 minutes later Kirk was leaving the room through that taped off section smiling and waving to the crowd. I stuck my mitt out as he passed by and got a handshake, probably one of only three or four in the room who did.

"I just shook the hand of Spartacus," I thought at the time.

That was my one and only book signing and while I'm glad I went I doubt there will be another one for me. I'm just not spry enough to snatch a book out of the air anymore.

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