News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - Peter Marshall hosted "The Hollywood Squares" for 16 years (1966-1981), but he has been an antique collector for much longer than that. During his early career as a big band singer, Broadway actor, film actor, night club performer and half of a comedy team, Marshall began collecting antiques.
While acting on stage in "Bye Bye Birdie" with Chita Rivera, Marshall recalls, "I would go to the auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's and collect wonderful things. Once, I bid on a lot of over 300 Patrician Wedgwood, which I love. I submittted the opening bid, which was something ridiculous, like $67."
As it turned out, the auction was being conducted on a holiday , and there were practically no dealers in the auction hall.
"Nobody counter bid. I got the whole lot for $67."
Marshall scored an even bigger coup in England when he went into the shop owned by a Mr. Woolsey, who had become a friend. That day, Woolsey's brother was tending the place. Marshall inquired about a 16th-century oak end table. "He quoted me a price of about $70 and very quickly I said okay," Marshall said. "I came back the next day to pick it up and the other brother was there."
It turned out the table was one of only two in the world, and the other one was in a museum in Ireland. "He even showed me a picture of it in a catalog," Marshall said. Still, being an upright businessman and recognizing that a deal is a deal, Mr. Woolsey sold the table to Marshall for the agreed-upon price. "I can only imagine what the conversation was like with his brother," he added.
Marshall speaks in reverent tones about the items in his home, like the 11-foot-tall window that came out of an old New England church. Or the sliding/ hanging oak door that leads to the bedroom, which he guesses is from the 1920s. "It's on a runner and makes this loud noise when it's brought shut," he said. Or the rugged old Irish hutch, the one that houses the Marshalls' fine china. He bought a magnificent triple-tressled dining room table in North Dakota that seats 12. "I had a picker buy it for me,"
Marshall said. "But it had no chairs. I went to a local antique shop there and the dealer showed me a picture of some Wavy Ladderback chairs for sale in Alsace-Lorraine. I fell in love with them and had them shipped over from France."
Some of his pieces are doing double-duty, functioning in a way separate from their originally intended use. A winnower, for example (an old shucking device, literally used to separate the wheat from the chaff) is now a coffee table. A French bidet he picked up in Washington, D.C. (while performing in "La Cage Aux Folles," a role he later reprised on Broadway), is now used as an end table.
"I don't like chatchkes," Marshall said emphatically, explaining why there aren't many knick-knack items on