Movie collectibles experience huge increase in popularity

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.

However, one of the most famous movies of the early 1960s was the epic drama, “Cleopatra,” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton. In her starring role as the ancient Egyptian queen, Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII), Taylor stirred new interest in the 1963 Academy Award winning film and movie objects made for the film.

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 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.

Celebrity Scandal

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 her future husband, the popular British stage actor Richard Burton.

Burton was married with children at that time, and the affair sparked a global scandal. Meanwhile, a second set was built at a cost of $600,000 for the film’s second location in Rome.

– Ph.D. antiques appraiser and author Dr. Lori presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide. Dr. Lori is the expert appraiser on the hit TV show “Auction Kings” on Discovery channel. To have Dr. Lori appraise your antiques, check out her event schedule at or, or call 888-431-1010.