We're Off to See the Wizard
The Iconic Cowardly Lion Costume

The original Cowardly Lion costume, worn by actor Bert Lahr in the beloved classic 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939), will be crowned 'king of the forest' at 'TCM Presents... There's No Place Like Hollywood', a definitive auction of rare movie collectibles to be held on 24 November at Bonhams New York.

The costume was worn by Lahr in a number of iconic scenes: when he first meets Dorothy and her friends along the Yellow Brick Road, when he sings the songs If I Only Had the Nerve and If I Were King of the Forest, when he skips down the Yellow Brick Road on the way to Oz, and when the Wizard awards him a medal for 'conspicuous acts of bravery', among many more.

For famed MGM costume designer, Gilbert Adrian, the only option for creating a realistic lion costume in 1938 was to fashion it out of real lion hides. He originally intended to find multiple hides which matched each other, so that several costumes could be made and used interchangeably. However, he soon realised that each hide was too distinctive, leaving him with no choice but to dress Lahr in a single costume for almost all of the filming.

In the Hollywood memorabilia art market, coveted costumes have often been worn in just one stellar scene, or even a single memorable moment. But the Cowardly Lion costume – screen-matched by the distinctive features of the lion hide – was worn in more than a dozen scenes, making it a cultural touchstone.

Other Wizard of Oz memorabilia will feature, including Lahr's original script, the Witch Remover prop wielded by the Cowardly Lion, a Winkie spear head, and an assortment of memorable Munchkin, Flying Monkey and Emerald City costumes. The sale will also feature a blue gingham 'test' dress and pinafore worn by Judy Garland during the essential pre-production period, when costumes, hairstyles and all artistic aspects of movie-making are refined prior to filming.

The auction will also include costumes from:
- Gone With the Wind (1939)
- Gilda (1946)
- North By Northwest (1959)
- The Misfits (1961)
- Rosemary's Baby (1968)
- When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
- Pretty Woman (1990)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Last November, Bonhams teamed up with TCM for the first auction together. The highly successful What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic at Auction, as Curated by Turner Classic Movies auction included the 1940 Buick Phaeton featured in the dramatic final scene of Casablanca, and a Maltese Falcon statuette used in John Huston's classic film.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to https://www.bonhams.com

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