|Debbie Reynolds on the throne from Prince Valiant|
It would go on permanent display, she said, in a purpose-built new museum at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, near Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park.
But since then the developer of the property went bankrupt and all other efforts to find a home for the 5,000 vintage costumes, props, letters and even cars from Hollywood's Golden Age have failed and now the 79-year-old actress has decided to sell everything in a series of auction sales.
"I'm very sad the collection isn't in a museum," she told me, "but I've spent literally millions of dollars just on protecting it and taking care of it and now I'm sick and tired of it and feel I must call it a day."
The star of such classic films as Singing In The Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Reynolds acquired many of the costumes, props and sets when she bought the MGM collection in 1970, but she continued to add to it, telling me only last year: “I've just bought Audrey Hepburn’s dress from the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady."
Among the items are props and costumes from My Fair Lady, Cleopatra, The King and I, Rita Hayworth's dress from Salome, Harpo Marx's hat and wig and the famous pleated dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch,
Debbie Reynolds had the collection briefly on display at the Las Vegas hotel and casino she owned in the 1980s and despite losing a small fortune, the hotel and having to declare bankruptcy she managed to hold on to the memorabilia.
The first sale, of about 600 items, is expected to raise between $4 million and $6 million.