Movie stars seem to be synonymous with autograph signatures and autograph seekers. Before the days of paparazzi waiting for movie stars everywhere they went, actors and actresses were very willing to sign autograph books for fans. Usually, the fans turned the page each time they asked someone to sign their book, so the examples found today are very well-placed on a page. In-person autograph signatures are the only ones that can generally be trusted not to have been written by an assistant in recent years. The volume of requests that movie stars receive for their autograph signatures and signed photographs is so enormous that no one could keep up with it – and they don’t. Unless there is a direct personal relationship between the movie star and the person a photograph is inscribed to, it must be assumed that it was signed by someone else on the star’s behalf. This was not as true decades ago, and because of the cost of photographs only a few movie stars sent them out to people they did not know.
Autographed movie memorabilia of the early movie stars is not in significant demand today, but beginning in the 1930s and 1940s, movie stars’ autographs were, and are, very popularly collected. Judy Garland has always been in great demand and is one of the scarcest movie star autographs to find. Others of her same period of time, such as Clark Gable, Cary Grant, and Fred Astaire, are much more available, all in the form of autograph signatures obtained in person on album pages. Lawrence Olivier had a long life and career, and he signed letters more often than others, and these, as well as in-person autograph signatures, are available. Vivien Leigh, the star of “Gone with the Wind” along with Clark Gable, had a career cut short by illness and, as a result, is nowhere near as commonly available as her fame might indicate. Due to Humphrey Bogart’s shortened life span, his autograph signature is much scarcer, and he continues to be in great demand among fans of his many iconic movie roles. James Cagney would be another well-known celebrity,
The interest and demand for autograph signatures of the director Alfred Hitchcock rivals that of any of his contemporary movie stars. His image was well-known, and he was happy to sign autograph albums, but the demand for his autograph signature has always been greater than the supply. The most popular movie star of this era, and the most expensive to acquire, is Marilyn Monroe. She very willingly signed autographs for admirers, but demand has always far outstripped the number of pieces that people are willing to part with, and only the emergence on the market of a group of her signed checks has made her available in the last decade or so. Audrey Hepburn is another wildly popular actress. Elvis Presley, more of a singer than movie star, has been in tremendous demand since his death. Presley’s autograph signatures are all that he ever wrote, with the exception of a few signed documents, but he was very willing to sign autographs for fans in person.
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