On April 20th, in Los Angeles and New York, the collections Charles Williamson and Tucker Fleming go up for bid. Mr. Williamson was a long time PADA member and sometime actor. Anyone who has ever sold works on paper knows how important acting is and can appreciate the confluence of careers. Hopefully he did better selling signatures and signed documents than he did as an actor. He is in fact the Button Gwinnett of actor credits, known to exist but barely. His career as a collector/dealer of autograph material is more substantial although as is common among collector-dealers, he seems to have measured his career more by acquisitions rather sales. We can all be grateful because the collection he built with life partner, Tucker Fleming, is to be sold by Bonham’s to benefit various charities.
For these men, before Hollywood, there was Rome. Fifty years ago they were living in Europe and collecting literary, art and musical manuscripts – material they retained throughout their lives. It’s also the material that set the stage for their lifetime of collecting. Then moving to Hollywood they succumbed to the siren call of fame and became fast friends with many whose names today are listed in small point on the Hollywood sarcophagus circuit. No mistaking this however, they knew famous people, were liked and trusted and for some became their literary executors. Many of these people were once 24 point characters but time and changing tastes reduced the half-life of Hollywood fame for many to ‘do you remember’ status in just a few years, they living long enough to see the point size for all but the uber-famous fall like leaves on a windy day.
This then is the final act, the clearing of archives leading to the disposition of proceeds for charity. Life is fleeting, memory fickle.
That the entire proceeds of the sale will be distributed to charity may answer the question of what if anything they promised those, whose papers they have, whose names still resonate among those of a certain age whose clearest memories are of fifty years ago. They may not have offered a bon voyage but it seems, in sending this material into the rooms with the proceeds going to charity, they are assuring it. One hopes for a successful outcome. It's a very nice thing to do.