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The Wizard of Oz’s Crystal Ball, The Big Lebowski’s Cardigan, and James Cameron’s Alien Up for Auction
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The Wizard of Oz’s Crystal Ball, The Big Lebowski’s Cardigan, and James Cameron’s Alien Up for Auction

Alex Carter

The world’s most famous crystal ball and The Big Lebowski’s omnipresent cardigan are up for bidding at the Hollywood Memorabilia Auction this coming weekend in Beverly Hills. The crystal ball that tormented Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was subject to an exhaustive authentication process before it was accepted into the auction at an opening bid of $40,000. Another big ticket item is an early draft of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” lyrics, written by John Lennon with notes and doodles from Paul McCartney. It opens at $200,000.

The biggest ticket item of all is the orignal, fully functional Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car from the film of the same name. The auction pre-sale estimate is $1,000,000.00

More contemporary pop culture junkies will be interested in the vintage cardigan sweater worn by Jeff Bridges in the cult Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski. Although there were three copies of the sweater made for the production, Bridges wore the one Vintage Pendleton Cowichan cardigan for the duration of filming, so that he might “delve deeper into the ‘Dudeness’ required of the role”. As of late afternoon on May 12, the bidding was at $11,000, with three days of absentee bidding remaining before the start of the live auction. As sourced for The Big Lebowski and ‘distressed’ by costume designer Mary Zophres, Jeff Bridges’ cardigan is relatively lightweight, fitted with a zip and made from 100% pure virgin wool. The lived-in look is all there, even a hole in the sleeve to show wear.

Other items of general interest are a collection of Kennedy family portraits shot by Richard Avedon for a story in a 1961 issue of LOOK magazine; and a note Sharon Tate wrote in fountain pen on Chateau Marmont stationery one year before she was brutally murdered by the Manson Family. There are virtually no known artifacts from the short life of the stunning and enigmatic actress. The starting bid is $2,000.

The two-day live auction begins at 11 am on Saturday, at the Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. Learn more at:

http://profilesinhistory.com/hollywood-memorabilia-auction-44/hollywood-memorabilia-auction-44

Here’s info on our favorite item from the auction, the Alien costume from Aliens:

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1096. ALIEN COSTUME FROM ALIENS. (TCF, 1986) Full Alien Warrior costume from James Cameron’s classic 1986 film ‘Aliens’.The design of this iconic costume was based on H.R Geiger’s original and was fabricated by Stan Winston studios (Stan won the ‘Best Visual Effects’ Oscar for his work). Approximately 12 full costumes were made for the film and this one is constructed of 10 separate components (head, neck ring, ribs, hands, feet, tail, back ‘horns’, jump suit). James Cameron did not want the Alien performer’s range of movement to be inhibited, so the main jumpsuit was made from spandex with foam detailing glued to it. This particular jumpsuit has a name faintly visible on the inside of the costume; ‘JasonWhite’,who is a credited performer in the film. The neck ring is secured to the head byVelcro and the two components simply slip over the performers head.The rear horns are held in place byVelcro. The tail secures to the performer via a buckle system around the waist and is flexible (it is sprung with long strips of plastic).The feet slip on and are secured by a zipper.A pair of original hands are included with the costume (the hands in the auction picture are replicas from the original mould as the originals are in delicate condition). The rib section is a faithful replica; there are no known complete original examples as they were delicate and blown to pieces by squibs in the action scenes. The light coloured ligaments on the jaw (which were originally condoms) and inner jaw ‘teeth’ are replicas for display purposes. Included in the auction is the display mannequin as pictured. Since its original purchase at a UK auction house in the 1990s, components of the costume have been replaced with better original examples.It’s believed that only three full costumes survive and this is the finest example.A once in a lifetime chance to own a classic piece of cinema history. $80,000 – $120,000

998. WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST CRYSTAL BALL FROM THE WIZARD OF OZ. (MGM, 1939) Undoubtedly the most famous crystal ball in film history, this hand blown glass sphere was used by the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) to keep track of Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her companions as they traveled down the yellow brick road in the MGM Technicolor classic The Wizard of Oz, a film which has become a national institution. Missing since 1939, this iconic item was thought lost by Oz experts after it did not turn up during MGM’s famous 1970 sale, but research has revealed that MGM never owned it. Instead, the item spent part of the last 72 years stored safely inside the tiny prop house lovingly maintained by special effects genius, Kenneth Strickfaden (Frankenstein), who contributed not only the crys- tal ball to the film, but was hired to create the electrical shock effect the Witch received when she bent down to remove the ruby slippers from Dorothy’s feet. Before appearing in The Wizard of Oz, the item appeared in other classics involving Strickfaden, including MGM’s The Mask of Fu Manchu starring Boris Karloff, and Twentieth Century Fox’s Chandu the Magician starring Bela Lugosi. Approximately 25 inches in diameter, positive identification occurred after noted Wizard of Oz experts mapped bubbles found in the hand-blown glass and painstak- ingly matched those with corresponding blemishes that appeared on screen. In addition, the ball’s unique, non-spherical hand-blown shape matches original MGM set photos from multiple angles. When consulted on the authentication of this crystal ball, William Stillman, noted Wizard of Oz expert and co-author of The Wizardry of Oz states: “I compared the visuals you sent against the set stills we have here, and I am pleased to say that it appears as though the markings and imperfections do align. Interestingly, I never before noticed how irregularly-shaped the globe was/is. It appears as though an effort was made to place the lopsided portion away from the camera side. In any event, I am pleased to help authenticate this unusual piece. Given its size and composition, it’s remarkable it survived unscathed. Ownership of the item is thought to have transferred from Strickfaden to Dr. Maxwell Smith’s legendary science fiction prop house, Vectrex Corp., somewhere around 1973 when the two worked together on Blackenstein. This is the first time since the filming of The Wizard of Oz that this iconic screen used item has been offered to the public. Due to its use by not only Judy Garland, but also Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, the item’s cinematic importance cannot be overstated. Unlike other iconic Wizard of Oz items that were duplicated multiple times for use in the film, this is the only one of its kind. $40,000 – $60,000



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