‘Wizard of Oz’ Costumes for Sale at Bonhams Today

The Cowardly Lion costume. Photo: Bonhams

Tonight in New York, the Cowardly Lion costume worn by actor Bert Lahr in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz will be auctioned off at Bonhams, as part of the sale “TCM Presents: There’s No Place Like Hollywood,” beginning at 1:00 p.m. The estimate for this extraordinary lot is available by request.

The lion costume was created by famed MGM costume designer Gilbert Adrian, who fashioned it out of actual lion hides. Because the hides were so distinctive, with unique hair patterns and scars, Lahr wore the same costume throughout filming. This makes it an extremely valuable cultural touchstone, as it is rare to find a film costume worn in more than a handful of scenes, much less throughout the entire picture.

The outfit has been treated by conservators at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art. A head sculpture has been added in lieu of a human face, which was actually cast from the head of Lahr’s son. The makeup on the head was reproduced by the team that worked on the film Jurassic Park. In addition, a human-hair wig and mane have been added.

In addition to the stunningly life-like lion costume, the auction will feature other Wizard of Oz memorabilia, including Lahr’s original script ($60,000–80,000) and several props from the film. Other costumes to hit the block include that of a Munchkin ($8,000–12,000), a Flying Monkey ($10,000–12,000), and a blue gingham “test” dress and pinafore worn by star Judy Garland during the film’s pre-production period ($200,000–300,000).

Other items announced for the film-fan auction include costumes from Gone With The Wind, North by Northwest, Rosemary’s Baby, When Harry Met Sally, and Pretty Woman.

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