By Jamie Stengle
DALLAS — A memorabilia collector is selling the gray wool suit Gene Kelly wore as he joyously danced in a downpour in the Hollywood musical “Singin’ in the Rain.”
The suit is expected to sell for more than $20,000 when Heritage Auctions offers it up Friday in Dallas. Memorabilia collector Gerry Sola has had the suit for more than four decades after buying it for $10 at a 1970 sale of MGM props and wardrobe items following the sale of the studio to financier Kirk Kerkorian.
“I think it’s one of these pieces that people are really excited to see go up on the block,” said Margaret Barrett, director of the entertainment and music memorabilia department at Heritage Auctions. “Even if you’ve never seen this movie, you probably know the scene. You’ve seen Gene Kelly dancing around, singing in the rain, swinging on that lamp post.”
Sola, a retired postal worker, had traveled from his home in Northern California to Los Angeles for the 1970 MGM sale, which progressed from an auction to a garage sale of sorts with racks of clothing for sale
“If there was one thing in my life I could do again, I’d love to go to that auction again. It was the most exciting thing to ever happen to me,” Sola said.
Sola said that he was sorting through racks of clothing when he ran across the gray suit marked as Kelly’s and had a feeling it was the one from the famous scene in the 1952 musical. The jacket’s inside breast pocket has an MGM label with Kelly’s name and the production number.
“The inside jacket, the lining, was all water stained,” Sola said. “I said, ‘Oh, I know what that is!’ So I bought it.”
Sola, who has stored the suit in his closet over the decades, said he decided it was time to sell.
“I’ve had it for over 40 years. I’m getting older. It’s time to kind of let this stuff go,” said Sola, 72.
At the entertainment and music auction Friday, Sola also is offering another suit worn by Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain” that he bought for $75 during the auction portion of the sale. That suit, made of plaid wool that features knickers, is expected to sell for about $6,000.