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Fox unlocks its archive for charity auction - Variety 12/20/06


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  • Fox unlocks its archive for charity auction - Variety 12/20/06

    Fox unlocks archive for charity auction

    Studio to put rare papers up for bidding




    By Michael Fleming
    December 20, 2006

    Film toppers Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos have donated more than 200 rare documents from 20th Century Fox's archives for an auction to benefit the Motion Picture & Television Fund's insurance fund.

    Fox is one of the first majors to part with studio-system star contracts and internal memos, most of which were signed by the talent. The documents should be worth a fortune to collectors, said Nicholas Lowry, president and principal auctioneer at Swann Galleries, who will oversee the auction on Jan. 25 in New York.

    Among the most interesting: a 1946 internal memo advising that Norma Jean Dougherty was changing her professional name to Marilyn Monroe; Humphrey Bogart's first studio contract, from 1930, when he was paid $400 a week and assigned the film "Up the River"; another from 1951, when Bogart got paid $17,500 a week for "Deadline USA"; a contract signed by Judy Garland to star in the 1967 film "Valley of the Dolls"; a termination letter drafted after she showed up for work inebriated; Marlon Brando's 1951 contract for "Viva Zapata," which paid him $10,416.66 per week, or just shy of $125,000 for the film; a Lucille Ball contract for the thriller "Dark Corner," which paid her $5,000 a week, or $60,000 for the film.

    Also: a Cary Grant contract for the 1948 film "I Was a Male War Bride," which paid him $100,000, plus 10% of gross receipts if they exceeded $1 million, capped at $2.5 million; the 1935final contract signed by Will Rogers that at $1.1 million for 10 pictures was one of the first seven-figure deals dealt by a studio; and several missives involving Rita Hayworth, including signed memos in which she changed her name from Margarita Cansino to Rita Rubio on Jan. 31, 1935, and another issued days later, when she changed it to Rita Cansino (she didn't switch to Hayworth until she was under contract at Columbia). There are also picture contracts for Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn, Lana Turner and many others.

    Lowry said Fox had opened up a treasure trove of genuine documents in a market fraught with fakes. Almost all of these missives were signed by stars in the presence of a notary public.

    While some of the contract language is boilerplate stuff, stars who lament the recent studio crackdown on perks and salaries may find solace in agreements like the ones signed by Laurel and Hardy, who were required to furnish their own wardrobes for films. Bigger stars got duds but were told to provide their own underwear.

    Grant was given an extraordinary star perk when the studio offered to give him a dressing-room phone, and Elvis Presley was given permission to violate strict grooming codes and wear his hair however he saw fit in 1958 as part of a contract signed by Presley and Col. Tom Parker for "Love Me Tender."

    "Fox's heritage reflects Hollywood itself and our well-maintained document archives are a Tut's Tomb of movie history," Rothman said. "These papers are so cool that, as a fan of that history, I will have to restrain myself from bidding. This donation is intended to get the past out of file cabinets into the hands of film lovers, and let it serve the present through the MPTF. We also hope this auction might inspire other studios to follow suit."

    Motion Picture & Television Fund CEO Ken Scherer said the auction will kick off the fund's emphasis on raising coin to help actors keep up health benefits when they aren't working enough to qualify.

    "People always think of the retirement home, but keeping people in a cyclical business insured before a health crisis occurs is also very important," Scherer said. "Jim (Gianopulos) is on our board, and Tom (Rothman) is a supporter, and they came to me with this idea. You can buy costumes and memorabilia on eBay, but these documents are something else. Someone paid $1.2 million for Babe Ruth's contract, and who knows the value of these items, many of which are pretty special and unique."
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  • #2
    Re: Fox unlocks its archive for charity auction - Variety 12/20/06

    there are always several copies of contracts and memos. IT is great that fox is letting go of many of it's top names. I only wish I had money to bid on a few especially the clark gable, carry grant ones. Thanks to channels like TCM and AMC i get to watch them again.


    • #3
      Re: Fox unlocks its archive for charity auction - Variety 12/20/06

      Hollywood papers auctioned off

      Posted 1/25/2007 11:35 PM ET

      The Grapes of Wrath motion picture rights to Twentieth Century Fox fetched $24,000 at a charity auction Thursday.

      It and nearly 160 other contracts and papers signed by stars including Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn were donated by Twentieth Century Fox. The auction netted $267,280 for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, which helps take care of not-so-rich-and-famous actors and directors.

      The Steinbeck contract had been expected to sell for $4,000 to $6,000, Swann Auction Galleries said.

      The second-largest winning bid was for a typed letter signed by Marilyn Monroe in 1947 shortly after she changed her name from Norma Jeane Baker but before she starred in any films. It sold for $7,000, which was within the estimated price range.

      A Yul Brynner contract for his role as the king of Siam in The King and I sold for $3,200, in line with its presale estimate.

      A Hepburn contract for the 1966 film How to Steal a Million sold for $5,400, nearly four times its estimated $1,500.

      The buyers were all anonymous, and the sale prices did not include the 20% buyer's fee.

      Funds from the Fox auction were earmarked for health insurance for uninsured members of the Hollywood community, Swann spokeswoman Rebecca Weiss said.
      "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006


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