A hard dose of reality sits on the far edge of a sea of installations celebrating the characters of science fiction and fantasy at San Diego Comic-Con this week. The people behind the heroes of these new myths are real, and very mortal.
The auction house Profiles in History will auction off about 1500 items from the estate of the late Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds in September, and is using Comic-Con to build buzz for the sale. The company rented a large booth on the convention center floor to display some of the most personal, poignant — and particularly relevant — of the items to be auctioned, dragging down everything from signed Star Wars posters to tokens from a childhood in the spotlight. Fisher died at the age of 60 late last year, after suffering a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles; Reynolds, her mother, died at 84 just a day later.
On Wednesday’s Comic-Con preview night, fans that found the bittersweet museum/retail display were reminded of the family’s role in Hollywood history, as well as Fisher’s unique voice and personality.
“We’re looking through everything, to see what we think are the interesting things and kind of capture the essence of Carrie and Debbie,” Profiles in History’s head of acquisition, Brian Chanes, told Inverse at the booth. Proceeds will be split between the estate and two charities — The Thalians, Debbie Reynolds’ mental health group, and the Jed Foundation, a teen suicide prevention organization chosen by Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd.
The company is working with Todd Fisher, now the executor of the estate, to find about 1,500 items to auction. In previous press releases, Profiles in History teased that items for sale would include Fisher’s writing desk and chair from the set of Return of the Jedi, as well as Reynolds’ costumes from productions such as Annie Get Your Gun. Several of those items were on display at Comic-Con, as were many new selections, including many things that will make Star Wars fans smile (and likely tear up).
Fisher was a prolific collector of novelty items, such as fake Star Wars cereal boxes (seen below) and character toys (that Chewbacca Furby is notable). Many of those items will be for sale, offering fans of more modest means a chance to own a piece of an actress who spent her life working to reclaim her identity. “We’re going to start things at a very reasonable level, and then the market is going to buoy to what they’re going to pay,” Chanes said, noting that bidding on a signed Return of the Jedi theater poster might start at around $400-600.
More expensive items, like a Singing in the Rain poster signed by Reynolds and cast mates including Gene Kelly, could start around $10,000, and only go up from there. Three lots of Reynolds’ Hollywood items have already sold for $30 million.
The auction’s booth also included more historic items, like Fisher’s annotated scripts for the Star Wars movies and photographs from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Front and center was giant model of Princess Leia in a British phone booth, which she used on stage for her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking. Fisher never shied away from sharing her personal struggles — she made them the center of her personal writing and later performances — and evidence of her battles with alcoholism, depression, and substance abuse were also under glass display cases.
Remarkable items like her Alcoholics Anonymous guidebook, as well as a signed note from actor Sidney Poitier, were on full display alongside her collection of Star Wars comic books, a sign of just how intertwined the personal and professional became for the brilliant writer and actress.
For fans more familiar with her recent press tour forays, there is a small collection of items dedicated to her beloved French bulldog, Gary Fisher. The dog went everywhere with her, including to the sets of the new Star Wars movies, and her love for the pup is obvious from the tiny selection of items made available for mourning fans at the convention.
On display next to those Gary Fisher items were items from Fisher’s youth, things rarely seen by anyone who had not visited the home that mother and daughter shared in Hollywood. Chanes teased more of them, which he said would give a further insight into their lives together.
“There is a Girl Scouts calendar, vintage from 1968, and in it you see Debbie Reynolds and little Carrie is there,” he said. “There are personal things, items we didn’t bring for lack of space. We have miniature furniture that Carrie had in her doll house in her mom’s house in Beverly Hills. Little things like that that embody her childhood.”
Comic-Con booths are generally greeted with great fanfare, announced and hyped up by press releases that promise unprecedented “experiences” for fans, often with the offer of helping them escape reality for a few minutes.
The Fisher and Reynolds booth is a sort of counterpoint to Comic-Con, a display of what gets left behind when the real world comes roaring back. Their legacy lives on, and through the glass cases, fans could at least slip back into the past for at least a moment or two, before realizing it would likely be too expensive to bring much of it back home.
The Profiles in History auction of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds estate will take place on September 23, both in person in Calabasas, California and in real-time online.