Herter Brothers Furniture In The Movies

by John Werry on May 5, 2009

herter brothers bed table Herter Brothers Furniture In The Movies

We received a tip from Joe in the comments on this post that we could find some of the Warner Brothers Herter Brothers furniture stash that recently sold at Bonhams in the film, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”   I located the above screen capture from a clip from YouTube confirming his story.

In the photo you can see the shaving stand on the left (sold for $61,000), the bedstead (sold for $326,000), the table (sold for $48,000), and there may be a pair of night stands present ($23,180), though obscured in the shot above.  Judy and Max Foote who stop by the Rare Victorian site on occasion were the winning bidders on the bed, shaving stand and night stands, though I am not certain if they took home the table pictured as well.

If I’m not mistaken, that is a John Henry Belter chair in front as well.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Geo May 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm

a friend had a Belter set that was supposedly in the movie Maverick with James Garner, Mel Gibson, etc. Could never find it in the movie, however.

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zeke May 5, 2009 at 2:25 pm

The crest on the bed looks different as compared to the one sold at Bonhams. Perhaps the crest in the movie is a prop? In any event, here is a link to it:

http://www.bonhams.com/cgi-bin/public.sh/pubweb/publicSite.r?sContinent=USA&screen=lotdetailsNoFlash&iSaleItemNo=4115196&iSaleNo=16932&iSaleSectionNo=1

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R. Joseph Wiessinger May 5, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I think the Chair in the foreground in the Molly Brown movie and another one in the bedroom are both Meeks. Not sure which pattern but after seeing the movie numerous times, I believe they are Meeks. Fun to see this great furniture in the movies. JOE

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Funbud May 8, 2009 at 11:38 am

Herter bedroom furniture also shows up, memorably, in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960). I think that bedroom suite was from the same Herter commission, but it was owned by a different Hollywood studio (Universal) and sold by them at auction in the ’70s.

A Herter mantelpiece also turns up in “Mr. Skeffington” (1944) starring Bette Davis, and other pices are visible in Disney’s “Pollyanna” (1960). The Herters had several very large commissions in California, so it makes sense that the movie studios would have ready acccess to these antiques.

This can actually be an amusing hobby: watch enough old movies from MGM, for example, and you’ll spot the same Louis XVI parlor set (with tapestry upholstery) in films as varied as “Marie Antoinette” (1938), “Meet Me In St. Louis” (1944) and “Gigi” (1958).

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Bart May 13, 2009 at 1:47 am

I was checking the auction results at Bonhams and I see that Herter dresser and armoire failed to sell.

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max May 14, 2009 at 6:46 pm

For all of you who follow this.
Judy and I have located the original tester to the ebonized bed that we purchased at Bonhams and they will soon be reunited.
We also own the Psycho bed from Thurlow Lodge and have put it together correctly, i.e. the tester was not used in the movie and the sale catalog left out an extension.
A number of pieces were used in “Saratoga Trunk” if you care to look. You might want to check out Some Like It Hot, The Thornbirds, Citizen Cane, Ghost and Pollyanna.
A friend called and said he saw the side chairs that just sold last week on a Cheyenne episode rerun. Obviously he has no life.

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AP May 14, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Congratulations Max! Can you tell us where the original tester was and how you were able to locate it?

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woodwright May 15, 2009 at 9:09 am

Very good fortune indeed – and probably some diligent detective work to have found it. Was the original tester in good condition? Would love to see a picture of it – maybe you can send one or two to John W. & have him post it here on RV?

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Bart May 15, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Max:
Would love to see photo’s of your collection!

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max May 22, 2009 at 12:41 pm

We have made our deal re: the tester, columns and brackets for the bed. It is inlaid and has the same painted plaque as the dressers,cabinet and headboard. The pieces were at Warner Bros. I am not sure that they knew it was a half tester and the only way we knew was the description in the 1942 Butterfield’s sale description.
The prop manager was kind enough to let me look around and we also were able to locate pieces to at least two more cornices, which gives us a total of three, from the bedroom. They are inlaid and have the same female head with starburst crown as the dressers and cabinet. I also found a picture of the bed in situ and it originally had the face on the top of the headboard which we are replacing.

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RareVictorian May 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Great news, Max. Makes one wonder what else one could find rummaging through their prop storage…

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max May 22, 2009 at 2:47 pm

The great stuff is gone. However they can do a nice Donna Reed livingroom.

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woodwright May 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Max, Any chance of getting a picture of the tester (either w or w/o the bed) posted here? Would love to see it and it’s details – I’m a big Herter fan. woodwright

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max May 23, 2009 at 11:39 am

woodwright
Should have it in a couple of weeks and would be glad to share pictures. Since you are a Herter fan you would enjoy our collection of more than 50 pieces.

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Bart May 23, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Max:
Just how many pieces of the suite do you have?

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woodwright May 24, 2009 at 7:18 am

50 pieces of Herter – WOW! Very impressive! Do you only collect Herter? I would guess not – but that is an impressive number, it must be an amazing collection. Do you know of anyone who has a larger collection of Herter? I would guess – yours is probably one of the largest (both public or private) collections of Herter furniture. I (& probably many/ most readers here @ RV) would love to see some of your collection – perhaps you could communicate w/ John W. to have him post some pictures here on the site to share, or post them yourself in the forum. Would love to see it in person, but I’d be happy just to see some of it pictured. Looking forward to seeing the tester for your bed. Thanks. woodwright

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max May 25, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Bart
We have the bed, two night stands, a dresser, the shaving stand and the three side chairs. The cabinet was bought by Brian Witherall for a client and the other dresser was bought in.
There is a rumor that Bonham’s may be offering the unsold lots in a California sale. Hopefully the reserves will be more reasonable.
woodwright
We love to share our collection with those who appreciate the period. Yes we do have other pieces, over 100 in all of high style Victorian almost exclusively American strewn over two houses and an office..
We also have an extensive collection of decorative arts of the period including over twenty marble and bronze statues, half a dozen clock sets and numerous urns and vases primarily in the Egyptian, Greek and Assyrian revival motif. I am listed under Max Foote in the New Orleans phone directory, so if you are in the area call and if I am in town I will give you a tour.

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woodwright May 26, 2009 at 10:22 am

Max, Thank you very much for the invitation – I’d really love to see your collection. I’ve never been to New Orleans & it’s 1,300 miles away for me – but I can’t imagine a better reason to make the trip. It’s also a city I’ve always wanted to see. It would be a good break from the cold winters of New York. I will have to plan a trip for this winter. I will definately be in touch & hopefully can arrange a visit. Now I can’t wait for winter to get here. woodwright

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Ulysses Dietz December 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm

I noticed through a quick-eyed friend that the marquetry salon cabinet from the Mark Hopkins House that was in the Bonham’s sale (the one with damage that did not sell) was featured in Henry Higgin’s library in the 1964 Warner Brothers classic, MY FAIR LADY. I wonder where that piece ended up. Damages or not, it had fabulous marquetry.

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Susan MacLaurin September 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I would like to know of a specific movie that a wonderful Herter Brothers piece from Thurlow Lodge has been seen? I give a short talk on the Music Room Console with Mirror at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles. I know that the Mirror along with other furniture from Thurlow Lodge was on the auction block in 1942 after Mrs. Timothy Hopkins’ death. LACMA bought this piece in 1991 at an auction after it had supposedly been a prop at Universal Studios since 1942. Any help would be appreciated, as I would like to tell my audiences of specific TV shows or movies that this particular piece has been seen.

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John Werry September 23, 2010 at 11:03 am

I got this list of movies from the Bonham’s sale that included both Thurlow Lodge and the Hopkins residence. I’m not sure which pieces from which estate were in which movies, but here they are:

“Saratoga Trunk” (1945),
“Some Like It Hot” (1959),
“The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (1964),
“Scarface” (1983) and
“Ghost” (1990)

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