Trash or Treasure: Star-studded register a Hollywood souvenir
“Everyone associated with iconic 1930s radio program Hollywood Hotel,” is how Matt Schlegel described the star-studded list of signatures in a register he inherited from his maternal grandfather. “My grandfather coordinated the show for its sponsor and bought and supplied the register,” he explained to expert evaluator Brian Thomczek at a recent appraisal session held at the Michigan Design Center in Troy.
Included are show hosts Louella Parsons and William Powell and other stars including Claudette Colbert, Jean Harlow, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Bette Davis, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Marlene Dietrich and more. Schlegel said he’s never counted the number of signatures.
Hollywood Hotel, Schlegel explained, was a one-hour American radio program. Sponsored by the Campbell Soup Co., it was hosted by Parsons and Powell and called “the most glamorous show of its time,” by radio historian John Dunning. It later inspired a 1937 movie of the same name.
Schlegel’s grandfather worked for Campbell’s Soup and was involved with the show, he explained to Thomczek, adding that the popular program lasted from 1934 to 1938. “Louella Parsons basically pressured stars to be on the show,” he explained, adding that “Stars that went on were given one case of Campbell's Soup.” He added that the giveaway ultimately wasn’t enough to keep stars coming.
Thomczek said there is a real Hollywood Hotel, which was founded in 1903 and was once the home of Rudolf Valentino. He said that Schlegel’s piece would definitely have value on its own, but that the value would definitely increase if it was affiliated with the hotel, which is considered a classic piece of Hollywood history.
As is, the record would bring at least $400 to $600, maybe a lot more if he could get all of the signatures authenticated. Thomczek suggested Schlegel contact the Collectors Lab in Hollywood, which specializes in similar items. “In the meantime, be sure to keep it away from sunlight,” he cautioned.
Schlegel says it’s been “in the family forever” and that he has long been curious about its worth. “When I was a kid we had a game in our family to try and come up with stars of the era who weren’t in here,” he told Thomczek and the crowd gathered for the recent event. “We couldn’t come up with any.”
Tiffany auction update
Curious what happened to the Tiffany Studios chandelier that was auctioned at DuMouchelles and featured in a recent column? Bob DuMouchelle was pleased to report to Trash or Treasure readers that the Rose Terrace piece did even better than expected at auction. Estimated at $30,000 to $50,000, the rare fixture eventually brought $130,000 before the gavel sounded. That’s the good news said Dumouchelle. The bad news is that despite a number of local collectors, the high number ultimately came from outside Metro Detroit. “Unfortunately, it looks like it will be leaving the area,” DuMouchelle reported.
Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to email@example.com. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.
About this item
Item: Hollywood autographs
Owned by: Matthew Schlegel
Appraised by: Brian Thomczek
Estimated value: $400 to $600 and up