Friday, November 21, 2014

Vintage actress auctions clothes for charity-designer on Titanic

Clara Kimball Young donates Lucile gown off her back
Lady Duff Gordon, Mme Lucile, Titanic Survivor 

Clara Kimball Young
Shirley Kate 1918
"Clara Kimball Young with the aid of her manager Harry Garson put the punch into the big bazaar at the Lasky Studio Hollywood, Cal, Saturday night for the benefit of soldiers families by auctioning off her clothes each piece that she wore one thing at a time to the highest bidder. 

"Miss Young disrobed on a platform in a crowd of several thousand people behind a large screen. Her novel and original method of creating renewed stimulus toward large monetary returns for the benefit caused the keenest interest and highest bidding. 

"Never before in the history of Los Angeles has any one sold the clothes they were wearing for a benefit and onlookers were quick to recognize and appreciate the spirit of true American patriotism. 

Photographic Print of Gowns That Express Poetic Ideas Costumes from the house of Madame Lucile, reviving the idea that the hair should accord with the colour-schemes of modern dress. 1920s fashion, hair styles and colors.

"Miss Young's dress, an exquisite Lucile gown was the first article sold. It was bought by Mr. Tally or Tally's Theatre, Los Angeles. Cecil De Mille after much spirited bidding, received her stockings and garters. Elliot Dexter, her corsets; William S. Hart her slippers and Douglas Fairbanks a most sheer and shimmery
Clara Kimball Young
1917 Kromo Gravure
Movie Star Trading Card
bit of negligee.

"The last garment which was auctioned off caused most spirited bidding between De Mille, Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and Hart. Chaplin got them for one hundred and eighty five dollars.

"Miss Young's royal contribution to the bazaar was heartily applauded and more especially as it has been announced that she will return East in a few weeks immediately after the completion of her new picture The Savage Woman upon which she is now spending her entire time and energy."

The above is text of a 1918 press release sent out by the manager of actress/producer Clara Kimball Young. It was published in magazines of the time. I couldn't find the price paid for the Lucile gown.

The editor of one magazine added this note at the end:
"The fact that no riot was reported following the completion of the auction is a tribute to the efficiency of Hollywood's police department. Just what Chaplin got for his $185 is left to the imagination by the wily press agent."

The best I can come up with with the help of online converters is that $185 would be worth about $3,400 today but do not quote me on this. Maybe there are some blinged out undies, diamonds of course that are pretty expensive these days?

Poet Alex Gildzen reads Charlie Chaplin Purchases Clara Kimball Young's Undies in Cleveland.

Despite this patriotic scene, something was brewing in Hollywood, changes were happening to the motion picture industry. Certain folks didn't care for this sort of behavior by movie people on or off the screen. Hmmmmm.  

James Bond/Daniel Craig's Swim Trunks
You may remember a Christie's James Bond themed charity auction from October 2012. Actress Judi Dench played the character of M in 007 Bond films including Casino Royale alongside Daniel Craig. She was there to introduce and help auction off a famous pair of sexy blue swim trunks that Craig wore when he played James Bond in that movie. 

"All I’m going to tell you is they’re unwashed," she joked.  At the auction in London, the trunks sold for nearly $72,000, according to the BBC.

Dame Judi Dench also appeared with Daniel Craig as his boss, M, in Quantum of Solace and most recently, Skyfall. She appeared in GoldenEye, Die Another Day, The World is Not Enough and Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan. 

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Dress designer and British couturier Madame Lucile made glorious costumes and gowns for the Ziegfeld Follies, Hollywood stars and films in the early days. They were said to be quite expensive but worth it. If her gowns were used in a picture the fact may be advertised as well as being credited on screen.

She had been one of the passengers on the Titanic April 1912. Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon was traveling to do business in America. 

She described the panic breaking out by the time her lifeboat was lowered. "Everyone seemed to be rushing for that boat. A few men who crowded in were turned back at the point of Captain Smith’s revolver and several of them were felled before order was restored. I recall being pushed towards one of the boats and being helped in." From The Mirror

In 1932, she wrote her autobiography Discretions & Indiscretions under the name, Lucy Duff Gordon. It has been reissued with a new title, A Woman of Temperament with the centenary of the Titanic disaster in 2012. She's billed as a Single mother, Fashion pioneer and Titanic survivor.  

In the 1997 film Titanic, Rosalind Ayres played what was called a "dramatized version" of Lady Duff-Gordon.
Passengers on RMS Titanic.
Passengers on RMS Titanic
Buy posters framed, unframed, choice of sizes

Includes Madame Lucile, The Personal Side of the Titanic Disaster

Related Pages, Books of Interest:

Hollywood Before Glamour: Fashion in American Silent Film Popular book paper and digital; Includes styles for many types of characters, costumes and gowns, WWI and American design in fashion/film, The Birth of Hollywood Glamour

It's All A Movie by Alex Gildzen. The Arrow That is Hollywood Pierces the Soul That is Me was completed and you may be able to find it.

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