Movie memorabilia from the 1960s has enjoyed a renewed interest on the market lately.
Specifically, screen legends and big budget movies spell value with collectibles on the auction block.
For instance, 1960s-era movie stills have sold to collectors such as those of James Dean for $650, of Joan Crawford with makeup innovator, Max Factor for $350, of Paul Newman for $100 and of Kathryn Hepburn for $175.
Shown is a piece of movie memorabilia with Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra, circa 1961-62.
However, one of the most famous movies of the early 1960s was the epic drama, "Cleopatra" starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton. Taylor in her starring role as the ancient Egyptian queen, Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII), stirred new interest in the 1963 Academy Award winning film and movie objects made for the film after her death.
Big budget blockbuster
Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, Cleopatra chronicled the struggles of the young Queen of Egypt trying to resist the imperialist ambitions of the Romans.
Cleopatra was, in its day, the highest grossing film of 1963, earning $57 million and it cost $44 million to produce. The hefty price tag was due in part to Elizabeth Taylor's unheard of salary. After winning the Oscar for "Butterfield 8," Taylor was asked to play Cleopatra and she famously joked: "I want $1 million plus 10 percent of the gross."
It turned out to be no joke as she actually got that deal and moved from MGM to Fox studios to make the film.
In addition, the film's cost skyrocketed as the complicated sets, elaborate costumes and period-representing props had to be constructed twice - once during a botched shoot in London where the sets were deteriorating due to the weather and again after the entire film production was relocated to Rome.
During the doomed London shoot, Taylor was bedridden with pneumonia and had to have surgery. The other cast members waited around for her to recover. During this time, Taylor met and fell in love with her co-star - who played Mark Antony - and future husband, the popular British stage actor, Richard Burton. Burton was married with children at that time and the affair sparked a global celebrity scandal. Meanwhile, a second set was built at a cost of $600,000 for the film's second location in Rome.
Liz on the auction block
Many objects from the illustrious film recently sold to collectors including gold-encrusted ceremonial headdresses worn by Taylor for $100,000, a wig for $5,000 and various film stills taken by photographers Pietro Portaluppi and Bob Penn depicting actors at work on the "Cleopatra" set for $800.
While filming "Cleopatra" in London, Taylor had to endure tracheotomy surgery.
I appraised the famous photo (above) of Taylor with her new scar along with other movie stills on Discovery's "Auction Kings" for $800.
Following Taylor's death in 2011, there have been auctions featuring her movie work, costumes, art collection, household items and personal effects. Her estate auction took place in December of 2011. Objects from the ultra-cool 1960s have been attracting collectors to the market for movie memorabilia and the stars that made them great.
Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide.