Bill Condon & Jack Morrissey Collection
Five years after the movie premiere, Bill Condon and Jack Morrissey are still all about Kinsey. A look behind the scenes at the making of a Kinsey collection, Hollywood style.
Not long after Bill Condon had signed on to write and direct Kinsey, he and his partner Jack Morrissey found themselves in New York and decided to rent a car and drive across the Hudson River in search of Alfred C. Kinsey's childhood home in Hoboken, New Jersey. When a young mother appeared at the door, Condon presented the best form of identification he could think of, his membership card for the Academy of Arts and Sciences.
"Bill talked about the fact that he'd be the guy writing and directing a film about Kinsey," recounts Morrissey, "and the great thing was that she not only welcomed us inside, but took us to Kinsey's attic bedroom which was now serving as a bedroom for her daughters." What's more, the girls had actually discovered some of Kinsey's earliest scientific equipment, including a Bunsen burner he'd bought in high school.
Jack Morrissey and Bill Condon accept Kinsey Scale T-shirts from IU Foundation Development Director Helene O'Leary (far left) and Kinsey Institute Director Dr. Julia Heiman (far right).
Condon and Morrissey surely would have tried to buy those treasures from the Hoboken family--if only the couple had known that someday they would be avid collectors of "Kinseyana," memorabilia associated with the movie and, more generally, with Kinsey himself.
Honoring a Life
Roughly seven years after the drive to Hoboken, The Bill Condon and Jack Morrissey collection includes everything from headshots to movie props. It resides permanently at The Kinsey Institute and continues to grow as Condon and Morrissey, passionate about the Institute and its mission, find more things to add.
Morrissey remembers how it all began.
"Bill and I went to Bloomington a few days in advance of the screening and spent time with the staff. That's when I saw what the Institute is now, the collections and exhibition spaces. And it seemed to me that anything produced for the production, marketing and release of the movie should be sent to the Institute as part of the permanent collection."
It started simply enough: with email.
"I was pretty diligent about forwarding emails to Liana (Zhou, the Institute's library and archives director) with hyperlinks to stories about the production of the movie," he says. "I sent everything I could find, even the negative stuff. Not that we give that any validity or credibility, but we felt it needed to be in the collection."
It wasn't long before Morrissey wasn't just forwarding links, he was sending everything he could get his hands on related to the movie, even scouring eBay for some items. "At some point we realized we had a critical mass, enough to have a named collection," he says.
Today Morrissey says the extensive collection is about 95 percent complete and includes all kinds of Kinseyana, deleted scenes, promotional T-shirts, a copy of shooting schedule, and assorted props including three gall wasp boxes, handmade and hand-labeled, and a 1953 Time magazine cover altered to show Neeson as Kinsey.
The collection also includes materials used as background research, like Kinsey's taped lectures, an interview with Clara ("Mac") Kinsey, and media on Kinsey and sexuality from the 20s through the early 2000s.
"Every now and then I'll find a bit of ephemera about the great man and his work so I'll send a link to Liana and see if she wants it for the collection," he says. "The fact that time magazine with his face painted on the cover still comes up on eBay at least twice a month gives you a sense of just how much Kinsey stuff was floating around in the world when he was at his peak."
A Commitment to The Kinsey Institute Collections
Though Condon and Morrissey have moved on to other projects, Kinsey remains close to their hearts, as evidenced by their continued collecting on the Institute's behalf.
Says Morrissey, "Bill and I have the utmost respect, for the institute that continues to carry the torch, and for the great man himself."
As for the Bunsen burner back in Hoboken, it's probably only a matter of time before it appears on eBay. When it does, Jack Morrissey, undoubtedly, will be there to bid.
----Debra S. Kent
Debra Kent is a freelance writer based in Bloomington, IN.
See also: Kinsey Today Newsletter article "Celebrating Kinsey . . and The Kinsey Institute" (Winter 2005)