Marilyn's subway dress makes $4.6m

The Marilyn Monroe dress that flirted revealingly with a gust of New York subway air in The Seven Year Itch fetched $4.6m at a Los Angeles auction of film memorabilia.

The Marilyn Monroe dress that flirted revealingly with a gust of New York subway air in The Seven Year Itch fetched $4.6m at a Los Angeles auction of film memorabilia.

A more sedate outfit worn by Audrey Hepburn in the Ascot race scene of My Fair Lady drew a $3.7m bid at the sale of nearly 600 Hollywood costumes and props collected by film star Debbie Reynolds.

The buyers, who were not identified, also paid a sum to the auction house and other fees, according to auction publicity firm Nancy Seltzer & Associates. That brought the total price to more than $5.6m for the Monroe costume and $4.5m for the black-and-white gown worn by Hepburn.

The auction house, Profiles in History, was calculating the sale’s final tally.

In film-maker Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch, Monroe’s character cooled off by standing over a subway grate to catch the breeze as a train sped underneath - which sent her dress north and exposed a shocking amount of leg and undergarment for a 1955 movie.

Modest but still impressive bids at Saturday’s auction in Beverly Hills and online included $140,000 for a guitar used by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and $100,000 for a Cleopatra headdress that adorned Elizabeth Taylor.

Reynolds, 79, started collecting four decades ago at auctions held by major film studios, including MGM and Fox, and eventually acquired 3,500-plus items.

The auction meant the end of a dream for Reynolds, who starred as a teenager with Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain and was an Oscar nominee for The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Reynolds’ combined casino-hotel and memorabilia museum in Las Vegas closed and she had planned to relocate the museum to Tennessee. Last year, Reynolds’ son, Todd Fisher, said the project had to file for bankruptcy protection and the collection would be sold to satisfy creditors.

Reynolds, who still performs in nightclubs and theatres and remains the petite, pretty blonde who captured Kelly’s heart in their 1952 musical, expressed regret in an interview last week. But she looked on the bright side as well.

“I won’t have so many children to take care of,” she said, “so I won’t have quite so much responsibility and I can rest a little more.”

More items are to be auctioned in December.

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