Autographed Movie Star Photos

Value (2003) | $8,000 Insurance$9,000 Insurance

APPRAISER:
Your stepfather passed away in 1991, but in 1989, you found out about his secret life.

GUEST:
Yeah, in the garage he had a box that was up in the corner, so we happened to be going through it, and we happened to find these autographed pictures of these movie stars back in 1942.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
And that's when we grilled him about who they are, and he told us how the Navy sent him to Hollywood to learn a little bit more about cinematography. And when he went to Hollywood, he met these movie stars and got some autographs.

APPRAISER:
Wow. Well, I see we have Veronica Lake, we have Lucille Ball, Carmen Miranda, Judy Garland and Rita Hayworth, as well as a whole stack here in the back which I know include Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers. Your stepfather, he was quite a ladies' man.

GUEST:
He... he had a way with the girls.

APPRAISER:
And they're all inscribed "To Mario." Tell us a little bit about the Veronica Lake one.

GUEST:
Well, this is what he tells my mother. When she was filming, he was in there watching her, and for some reason, she couldn't keep her eyes off of him and she forgot her lines, so the producer asked him to leave so she could finish her scene.

APPRAISER:
Wow. In the 1940s in World War II, Hollywood really helped go to war. You know, these women obviously went above and beyond the call of duty over these fabulous signed photos. In terms of their position in Hollywood history, Veronica Lake, her career was pretty much over by the end of World War II. She was known for her noir films-- "The Blue Dahlia." But she was a schizophrenic, and she ended up becoming later on, believe it or not, a barmaid in Manhattan. So this is a pretty rare signature by her. He knew her in her heyday. Lucille Ball in the 1940s-- she was actually a B-movie star. She didn't hit her stride until I Love Lucy in the '50s. Carmen Miranda, the tutti-frutti lady, was in her heyday. She actually was the woman in the United States who made the most money in 1945. Judy Garland, in 1942, had made, with Gene Kelly, "For Me and My Gal," which was her first real adult picture, and it was her most popular since "The Wizard of Oz." And then, finally, we have the beautiful Rita Hayworth, who came to prominence in 1941 with Fred Astaire in her first movie, "You'll Never Get Rich," for which she made her famous "Life" magazine photo shoot which ended up going to war with millions of GIs along with Betty Grable. So he couldn't have picked a better grouping of women. And I have to show, too-- here's your stepfather in 1950... what, late '50s?

GUEST:
Probably '51, '52.

APPRAISER:
Not with your mother. That was "pre" your mother, but he was a great dancer.

GUEST:
Yes, he was.

APPRAISER:
So you can see that he had a lot of qualities that ladies loved. You asked me a couple questions-- what the insurance value is on these and if they're worthless because they're inscribed.

GUEST:
That's true.

APPRAISER:
Okay, I'll take the second question first. Usually yes. Usually you could take off a third or a half, but you have a great collection here and we know these signatures are authentic. Judy Garland-- often forged. Rita Hayworth-- hard to find. Veronica Lake. Even Lucille Ball, an early photo, and Carmen Miranda, not easy to find. So it adds value to know that these are all authentic, that they were made out to your stepdad. The next thing-- insurance value is going to be at least a third higher than what an auction value would be because they're hard to replace, obviously. I'd insure Veronica Lake for $1,500; Carmen Miranda, Lucille Ball and Rita Hayworth for $1,000; and I'd insure Judy Garland for $2,000.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The whole collection, I'd insure for somewhere between $8,000 and $9,000.

GUEST:
Okay, great. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Leila Dunbar Appraisals & Consulting, LLC
Washington, DC
Appraised value (2003)
$8,000 Insurance$9,000 Insurance
Event
San Francisco, CA (August 16, 2003)
Period
20th Century
Material
Paper

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