A vintage travel trailer, customized as a lavish dressing room for Elizabeth Taylor during the filming of Cleopatra in 1963, has sold at auction for $51,660, WhatSellsBest.com reports.
According to the auction listing “Twentieth Century Fox spent a rumored $75,000 in 1960s dollars ($560,000 in today’s dollars) to build a fully customized 36-foot dressing room/trailer for the star. Designed in the theme of the Egyptian/Roman epic, the recreational vehicle was intended to keep Taylor in the true character of Cleopatra.
The 36-foot Aljo trailer features rose-colored carpeting, hand-painted ceilings, hand-painted bedroom murals, detailed crown moldings, custom makeup dresser and vanity, full columns mounted on the walls, and other columned furniture and decorative pieces.
Silk curtains hang from a semicircular runner to separate the bedroom from the living area.
The trailer also features a refrigerator and stove, as well as a bathroom, typical of a guest house or RV. This special hideaway was designed to make the star feel like the Queen of Egypt.
It is widely known that Twentieth Century Fox’s 1963 epic Cleopatra was both a troubled and devastatingly expensive production.
The film is infamous for nearly bankrupting the studio with its budget swelling to $44 million (equivalent to $320 million in today’s dollars). Star Elizabeth Taylor was awarded a record-setting contract of $1 million that rose to $7 million due to the delays of the production (equivalent to over $47 million today).
The studio was in particular trouble when Taylor became very ill during the early filming and was rushed to the hospital where a life-saving tracheotomy had to be performed.
The production was moved to Rome after six months as the English weather proved detrimental to her recovery, as well as being responsible for the constant deterioration of the costly sets required for the production.
During the filming Elizabeth met Richard Burton and the two began a very public affair which made the headlines worldwide.
The provenance of this fabled trailer is fascinating.
Millionaire financier and developer of the Watergate complex in Washington, DC, Nicolas Salgo, helped arrange financial backing for the film for the studio.
Once the film wrapped, Salgo negotiated with Fox to keep Elizabeth Taylor’s dressing room trailer and had it parked at his ZX Ranch in Oregon from the 1960s through 1980. Friends visiting the ranch, the largest in Oregon, would request to stay in the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton love nest—Hollywood’s version of the Lincoln Bedroom.
Once Salgo sold the ranch, he transferred ownership to his neighbor from the adjacent ranch (the current owner and consignor) who owned The Lakeview Fantastic Museum where it became part of the museum exhibit.
The trailer later was used as a guest house of his personal residence in Lake Tahoe, California before being sold at auction.
The furniture, fixtures, and curtains are all original. The other pieces currently decorating the dressing room, such as chairs, hand mirror, telephones, magazines, photographs, etc. are placed as a museum-like tribute to Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Cleopatra.
The original round bed was removed over 40 years ago and replaced with a queen-sized bed. Some areas on the walls exhibit minor moisture damage which can be easily restored; otherwise, in very good condition with original curtains and main fixtures intact.
The trailer has been towed recently from Northern California to Southern California and can be towed as a recreational vehicle.
It’s a wonderful and intimate Elizabeth Taylor piece, epitomizing the epic extravagance of Cleopatra—the last of the old guard Hollywood films.
Cable network Lifetime is currently filming a biopic of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch
Of the ranged empire fall. Here is my space.
Kingdoms are clay; our dungy earth alike
Feeds beast as man; the nobleness of life
Is to do thus; when such a mutual pair
And such a twain can do’t.
—William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, 1.1.34