Saturday Night Fever movie poster“Saturday Night Fever” (Paramount, 1977) one sheet (27 in. by 41 in.). The movie starred John Travolta and
Karen Lynn Gorney, as well as the entirety of 1970s disco scene. Image courtesy Heritage Auctions.

Sometimes, a movie captures the spirit of its time. Sometimes, that spirit can be caught by a single scene, still frame, or even set piece. That’s the case with the iconic illuminated dance floor from the 1977 film “Saturday Night Fever,” which sold for $325,000 at the recent “Hollywood Legends: Danger, Disaster & Disco” event at Julien’s Auctions. As the top lot, it was the highlight of the auction in more ways than one.

Custom-made for the production and featured in iconic scenes, publicity shots, and movie posters, the multicolored dance floor is as emblematic as the white suit John Travolta’s character wore to dance on it. (Incidentally, that suit sold last year, also at Julien’s Auctions, for $260,000.) Despite the film’s relatively narrow focus on working-class Italian kids in Brooklyn, it resonated with an entire generation and beyond, entering the U.S. Film Registry in 2010. Disco music—and dancing—was a key part of its appeal, with its soundtrack becoming the best-selling in history.

The dance floor was custom-made for the 2001 Odyssey Disco to use in the movie and was part of the club until it closed in 2005 when employee Vito Bruno bought it. In 2012, the floor appeared in an episode of the TV show Glee. The original acrylic panels from the film and the modern panels made for the episode were included in the lot, along with a DVD of the film.

The dance floor was the top lot at the auction but not the only pop culture icon. The second-highest lot didn’t appear in a movie, but it belonged to one of the industry’s greatest stars: a three-quarter length black jersey evening dress designed by Cecil Chapman and worn by Marilyn Monroe to an event Bob Hope hosted in 1953. Monroe attended the event with Joe DiMaggio. The dress sold for $254,000, surpassing its high estimate of $50,000.

More high-selling lots from the auction include an Ark of the Covenant prop used in the 1981 Indiana Jones adventure “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which sold for $104,000 against a high estimate of $70,000 (the lot description specifies that the lid is removable, but doesn’t say what happens if you do remove it) and a Persian-style rug prop used in “The Big Lebowski” (1998), which must really tie the room together at $50,800.

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