What happens to old movie costumes?

And then there’s this guy’s show.

link to staff report: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2807/

Old movie costumes were often recycled by the studios. The B movies of the 40s were often made with costumes and sets left over from major productions. Sometimes they would actually tell B movie scriptwriters to come up with a story making use of costumes and sets left over from other films. I recall reading of an actor who complained of how badly the costumes for extras and bit players smelled because they weren’t laundered frequently enough.

The original “Star Trek” featured so many parallel Earth stories because it allowed the producers to cut costs by using sets and costumes already available at Universal studios.

Funny you should mention Star Trek. When Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out, I remember reading that they pillaged the old costume collection for the scene set in San Francisco with all of the alien species at Starfleet Command. Some of the aliens’ costumes dated back to Cecil B. DeMille’s days, IIRC.

At the Star Trek Auction, which I attended, they had some ‘Klingon Cups’. They were marked with the additional info that, although they didn’t have clear proof, it was believed that the cups were also used in The Ten Commandments.

I used to work for Paramount, but not at the studio. One year, someone in HR made a mistake and sent to all employees the notice about costumes available for them to check out for Halloween. It was only ment for ‘certain’ studio employees.

A couple of weeks ago, the Museum of the Rockies had an exhibit of movie and TV costumes. It was remarkable just how low quality some of them were… I guess the idea is that any level of detail that won’t show up on the screen is unnecessary. Many of the newer ones, though, were much more fully detailed, and I have to wonder how much of that was due to considering the possibility that they might get looked at more closely in a display like this.

I’m pretty sure it was a travelling exhibit, so you might look for it in a museum near you one of these times.

Meanwhile, congrats and thanks, MsRobyn, on yet another brilliant Staff Report!

I saw the traveling Star Wars exhibit, including costumes. Very disappointing to see how flimsy the actual costumes were. Many fan costumes at conventions are better quality.

I was surprised there was no mention of the Granddaddy of them all, Western Costume. They’ve been in business since 1912 and have thousands of costumes for rent. I thought for the longest time it was industry-only but, nope, anybody who can pony up can rent an outfit from them.

Among other things they brag about, they supplied all of the men’s costumes for Gone with the Wind and their shoe department created the ruby slippers for Judy Garland.

I also was surprised. I’ve rented costumes from them several times.

slightly off-topic, but in the case of Corner Gas tv show, they’re selling most of them off: Corner Gas Garage Sale: I bought Brent Butt’s “Shirt Power” Shirt!. Some of the ones that are readily identifiable (like the t-shirts for the Dog River baseball team) they’re going to auction off for charity, I was told.

By the way, old theatre (and opera) costumes often go to The Theatre Development Fund’s Costume Collection, a non-profit in New York that rents them at low rates to non-profit theatres. They’re located in the huge building that occupies the space between 26th and 27th Streets, between 11th and 12th Avenues, dominating the West Side skyline between the two tunnels.

In the NYC area, it makes doing amateur Shakespeare and one-night-stand opera a helluva lot easier.