The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Monday announced a series of acquisitions for its costume collection, including the cape that Bela Lugosi wore as the title character in the 1931 movie “Dracula.”
“My father’s screen-worn cape has had a very special place in my life and in the lives of my children and grandchildren,” Bela G. Lugosi said. “In fact, it has been a part of my mother’s household and then my household since I was born — for over 80 years.
“After several years of discussions with (museum) Founding Director Kerry Brougher, who showed such care and appreciation of its important role in film history, it became clear that there is no better home for the cape than the Academy Museum …,” Lugosi said.
Exhibitions Curator Jessica Niebel said the cape, acquired via a partial gift from the Lugosi family, “represents the character of Count Dracula as a cultural icon and the life and career of an extraordinary actor, Bela Lugosi.”
“It is important to us as a museum to be able to restore and safeguard this artifact, especially knowing that much of the material history of the classic horror cycle has been lost forever,” Niebel said. “We are deeply grateful to the Lugosi family for entrusting us with a treasure that means so much to them.”
Other major gifts received in the past year by the museum, which is expected to open sometime in 2020 in the former May Company building at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, include:
— Shirley Temple’s gown, cape, crown and scepter from the 1939 film “The Little Princess,” donated by her family;
— the wedding dress worn by Jennifer Jones in 1949’s “Madame Bovary,” donated by the Arnold R. Kunert Collection;
— the cloche worn by Debbie Reynolds in 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain,” donated by Lauri Buehler; and
— the gown worn by Ann Blyth in 1955’s “The King’s Thief,” also from the Kunert Collection.
The museum also expanded its collection through the purchase of items, including;
— Marlene Dietrich’s Helen Faraday evening robe from 1932’s “Blonde Venus”;
— Gene Kelly’s sweater and slacks from 1951’s “An American in Paris”; and
— Sammy Davis Jr.’s two-piece, black-and-white-patterned Sportin’ Life suit from 1959’s “Porgy and Bess.”
— costumes from “The Shining” (1980), including the crimson jacket worn by Jack Nicholson;
— a black wig with gold trim worn by Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra” (1963);
— Diana Ross’s Billie Holiday jacket and skirt ensemble from “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972);
— Richard Pryor’s baseball uniform from “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings” (1976);
— a black sequined dress worn by Sonia Braga as the title character in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1985);
— a denim and flannel ensemble worn by Kathy Bates in “Misery” (1990);
— a three-piece, poly-cotton waitress uniform worn by Susan Sarandon in “Thelma and Louise” (1991);
— the robe and shorts that helped Jeff Bridges transform himself into “The Dude in The Big Lebowski” (1998); and
— a costume worn by Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart in “Mary Queen of Scots” (2018).
The Academy Museum has been acquiring three-dimensional motion picture objects since 2008. Its holdings now number about 3,500 items representing costume design, motion picture technology, production design, makeup and hairstyling, promotional materials and memorabilia, and awards.
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