Reel to Real

I’ve never considered myself a collector.  Sure, I had a lot of Shirley stuff.  As a child, I cut out every mention of her name in the papers or the TV Guide.  I had a doll and a record album courtesy of Santa, and a small collection of stills courtesy of my annual trips to Movie Star News in NYC.  As an adult, I bought the dolls that were issued….and the plates…. and the figurines….and the ornaments….and the music box.  I found a few precious compo dolls locally, and a few more on eBay.  But it was never because I needed to “add” to my collection.  It was because I wanted to be surrounded by Shirley.  I wanted keepsakes, reminders of the happiness she brought when I watched her films on Saturday afternoons.  Because it all started with the films.  If I never had one Shirley collectible, I’d still be connected to her through her films.

Movies were magic, as far as I was (and am) concerned.  My parents were big movie buffs, and many a night I awoke at 2:00 am to see the Late, Late Show.  Musicals were really my thing, and I was entranced by the sets and the costumes, and by my vision of Old Hollywood.  Something that appeared in a movie – a costume, a set piece – was akin to a religious relic.  Or would have been, if I’d ever seen one.  When I finally did see one as an almost-adult (the ruby slippers at the Smithsonian), it was my Holy Grail.  So the proposed exhibit of Shirley’s costumes was my Mecca (sorry ’bout mixing religious symbols). Yes, I was excited to see her dolls. Yes, I was thrilled to see her personal items.  BUT THE COSTUMES.  And then the auction – where clips of her wearing those costumes were shown –  while the actual costume was within feet of me.  Then my Shirley friends becoming the owners of some of those costumes. Impossible. Indescribable. Unimaginable.

At Take Two, more costumes, and another impossible dream coming true.  It wasn’t a costume, but it was a personal Shirley dress that was REMINISCENT of a costume.  Holy Grail. Or so I thought.

Then fate steps in, and opportunity knocks.  I’ll spare you the details of my hemming and hawing about rescuing a costume – an actual screen worn article – but it was my own personal Crusade.  Having a game plan in place (i.e., how am I going to pay for this thing?!), I took the plunge…and am just coming up for air now.

Because it’s here.


Blurry pictures to follow.  I was shaking. It also didn’t help that I was in rush, having raced home during lunch, hoping to meet the Fed Ex guy.


Pardon the less-than-professional backdrop of my bedspread.  #excited #rushing






Inside detailing. Hand sewn!



Inside the shoulder area.  Extra puffiness guaranteed!


Hooks and eyes.  Snaps.  And the smocking as seen from the underside.


As many of you are aware, the display has been in place for quite some time now.  It was complete less than fifteen minutes after the dress’ arrival.





You never know what’s going to happen.  Never did I think that when I noticed an inaccuracy in the auction catalog – one that listed this costume as being from Little Miss Broadway and not Just Around the Corner – and helped to have it corrected, that I would someday OWN this costume.  NEVER.


Note the COA, written before said correction.  BUT WAIT!!!  Just a few weeks ago, thanks to the eagle eyes of a super Shirley fan, we determined that this HAD been worn, albeit briefly, in Little Miss Broadway!  Guess what that means?  I have a rarity – a costume that was worn in TWO of Shirley’s major motion pictures.  Double-screen-worn, baby!

So yes, I’ve added a costume to my collection – because I can no longer deny that I’m a collector.  But I’m a fan first.