Hollywood’s Most Valuable Movie Autographs

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Jean Harlow autographed still inscribed to director William Wyler $10,157.50

Movie memorabilia collectors are serious about their film autographs. Here are ten Hollywood personalities whose authentic signatures will bring top dollar in the field today.

Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926)

One of the most popular stars of Hollywood’s Silent Era, Rudolph Valentino thrilled movie audiences of the day in such pictures as The Sheik (1921), Blood and Sand (1922), The Eagle (1925) and The Son of the Sheik (1926). Following his untimely death at age 31 on August 23, 1926, from complications of peritonitis, Valentino was given a hero’s sendoff in New York City, where over 100,000 people lined the streets to pay their final respects.

Auction results:

  • Signed check dated January 4, 1920 ($1,792.50)
  • Autographed oversized 15×18 portrait from 1925’s The Eagle ($2,244)
  • Signed two-page typewritten letter dated June 10, 1923 ($967)

Jean Harlow (1911-1937)

Feted as the vaunted “Platinum Blonde,” Jean Harlow was Hollywood’s golden girl of the 1930s. Her films include such gems as Hell’s Angels (1930), Red Dust (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Wife vs. Secretary (1935) and Suzy (1936). The 26-year-old Harlow died of complications from uremic poisoning on June 7, 1937.

Auction results:

  • Autographed glossy 8×10 MGM publicity photo ($2,716)
  • 1937 Rose Bowl program signed by Harlow and fiance William Powell ($800)
  • Signature and inscription on Cash and Carry note paper ($1,044)

Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926, Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of Hollywood glamour in the 1950s. Her movies include Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959). The 36-year-old Monroe died of a drug overdose on August 5, 1962.

Auction results:

  • One-of-a-kind 23×7.5-inch panoramic photo of the 1941 graduating class from Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School in Los Angeles, signed and inscribed, “To a super and swell friend (date at that) I mean it Bobby! Norma Jean Baker 3 ’41” ($12,877)
  • Signed check dated November 9, 1951 ($1,735)
  • Autographed 8×10 glossy photo taken by Twentieth Century-Fox photographer Frank Powolny in 1952 ($19,731)

Clark Gable (1901-1960)

The vaunted “King of Hollywood,” Clark Gable ruled the cinematic roost in the 1930s and ’40s. His films include such classics as It Happened One Night (1934), San Francisco (1936), Gone with the Wind (1939) and Command Decision (1948). The 59-year-old Gable died of a heart attack on November 16, 1960.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 b/w photo as Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind ($4,481.25)
  • Signed check dated October 7, 1946 ($239)
  • Signed 17-page movie contract for 1960’s The Misfits ($4,182.50)

Clark Gable autographed photo as Rhett Butler $4,481.25

Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957)

The epitome of cool during Hollywood’s studio era, “Bogie” delivered in such gems as The Petrified Forest (1936), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), The Big Sleep (1946) and Key Largo (1948). The 57-year-old Bogart died of esophageal cancer on January 14, 1957. At the time of his death, the frail, wasted Bogart weighed a mere 80 pounds.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 matte-finish photo ($2,040)
  • Signed one-page typewritten letter to his fan club dated March 7, 1944 ($2,541)
  • Signed 41-page Paramount Pictures contract dated July 24, 1953 ($1,044)

The Three Stooges

The Three Stooges, in their various incarnations, remain one of pop culture’s most enduring icons. The boys starred in 190 movie shorts from 1933 to 1959 and also appeared in feature length films. The trio was comprised of Moe Howard (1897-1975), Larry Fine (1902-1975), Shemp Howard (1895-1955), Jerome “Curly” Howard (1903-1952), Joe Besser (1907-1988) and Joe “Curly Joe” DeRita (1909-1993).

Auction results:

  • Signed album page from Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard ($783)
  • Signed Moe Howard check dated November 10, 1961 ($180)
  • Signed 3×6 photo from Larry Fine ($520)

Bud Abbott (1895-1974) and Lou Costello (1906-1959)

During the 1940s and ’50s the comedy team of Abbott and Costello reigned supreme in Hollywood. Their many films include Buck Privates (1941), Hit the Ice (1943), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) and Jack and the Beanstalk (1952). The 78-year-old William “Bud” Abbott died of cancer on April 24, 1974. The 52-year-old Lou Costello died of a heart attack on March 3, 1959.

Auction results:

  • 1952 8×10 Warner Bros. publicity still from 1952’s Jack and the Beanstalk signed by both ($636)
  • Business check dated March 22, 1948, signed by both ($1,242)
  • Ten-inch 78 rpm record “Who’s on First?” presented to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956 and autographed by both ($3,616)

Clara Blandick (1880-1962)

Forever known as “Auntie Em” in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, Clara Blandick’s other movie appearances include Tom Sawyer (1930), Harold Teen (1934), The Road Back (1937) and Drums Along the Mohawk (1939). The 81-year-old character actress committed suicide on April 15, 1962.

Auction results:

  • Autographed postcard featuring the Hollywood Canteen ($240)
  • Signed pink album page ($717)
  • Two separate album pages, one signed by Blandick and the other by Charley “Uncle Henry” Grapewin ($896.25)

Clara Blandick autographed album page in pencil $717

Thelma Todd (1905-1935)

One of the top film comediennes of the 1930s, Thelma Todd’s movie credits include Another Fine Mess (1930), Chickens Come Home (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), Sitting Pretty (1933) and Hot Money (1935). On December 16, 1935, the 30-year-old Todd was found dead in her car, the apparent victim of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, although several theories contend that she was the victim of foul play.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 matte-finish portrait by Bernard ($1,026)
  • Signed light green album page ($148)
  • Autographed 7×9 matte-finish photo ($578)

Steve McQueen (1930-1980)

Steve McQueen defined Hollywood cool in the 1960s and early ’70s. His many films include The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), The Sand Pebbles (1966), Bullitt (1968) and Papillon (1973). The 50-year-old McQueen died of cancer on November 7, 1980.

Auction results:

  • Autographed 8×10 glossy photo ($1,847)
  • Signed three-page contract with the William Morris Agency dated February 14, 1958 ($3,553)
  • Autographed magazine page bearing a small photo and biography of McQueen ($520)

Steve McQueen autographed movie still from Le Mans (1971) $1,195


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