Hollywood Museum – Hollywood

Hooray For Hollywood!

Hollywood Museum – Hollywood

Visited: February 2018

Wham!!!  Pow!!!  Bam!!!  Holy Campy Hollywood History Batman!

Once we heard there was a special exhibit featuring the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder Robin, Tracy and I carefully slid (not as young as we used to be) down the MaiTai Poles to the MaiTai Cave and hopped in the MaiTai Mobile.  We sped (obeying at least 75% of the speed limit signs) to the old Max Factor Building in Hollywood that houses the Hollywood Museum, an establishment that claims to contain, “the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world.”

Truth be told, Hollywood is one of my least favorite cities to visit in Southern California. It’s pretty run down, dirty and filled with tourists who think taking a photo with a fake character from Star Wars or Cinderella is the highlight of their vacation.  Que será.  But, having been raised on television and the movies, this museum had piqued my curiosity for quite some time … so we braved the always terrible Hollywood traffic, pedestrians wearing Walking Dead (and looking like it) t-shirts while crossing against the light staring at their cell phones.  We somehow made it to the parking lot a block away.

Located on Highland Avenue just south of Hollywood Blvd., the Hollywood Museum features “10,000 authentic show business treasures including costumes, props, photographs, scripts, stars’ car collections along with personal artifacts, posters, and vintage memorabilia from favorite films and TV shows.”  If you’re a movie and television fan, this is your place to visit.

                     

This property was purchased by Max Factor (“Hollywood’s Make-Up King”) in 1928 (next three photos courtesy of cosmetics&skin.com).

                                                         

The timing could have been a little better because not only was Hollywood Blvd around the corner, so was the Great Depression. It finally opened in 1935, in architect Charles Lee’s beautiful art-deco style. Stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball got their “star looks” right here (Lucy was not really a redhead and Marilyn was not originally a blonde).

Digression: “In 1938 Factor was traveling in Europe on business with his son Davis when during a stopover in Paris he received a note demanding money in exchange for his life. An attempt was made by the police using a decoy to capture the extortionist, but no one turned up at the agreed drop-off point to collect the money. Factor was so shaken by the threat that he returned at the behest of a local doctor to America, where upon arrival he took to his bed. Factor died shortly thereafter at the age of 65 in Beverly Hills.”  His son Frank (who changed his name to Max Factor Jr. and who was also a very innovative force in make-up) took over the business.

The building was sold to the Hollywood Museum in 1994. By 2003, the Hollywood Museum was ready for its close-up, complete with its art-deco lobby. There are four floors to tour (including a scary basement…more on that later). Note:  The one-story portion on the right is now Mel’s Drive-In, a 1950s-nostalgia restaurant. (photo from wilipedia).

We bought our tickets, took a quick check of the lobby that we’d visit later, and headed to the top floor to check out the “Batman ’66” Retrospective, which will run through March 17.

                                                                       

By its name, you know this Batman exhibition focuses on the campy 1960s television show (I never missed one, which helps explain why my high school grades weren’t higher). It starred the late Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. To my surprise, I read that the series only ran three years (’66 – ’68 … seemed longer). During its first two years, Batman aired two episodes per week. It was time to look around.

There was no shortage of Batman paraphernalia to wade through (Adam West was a very cool dude)…

                                              

…proving just how impactful this television show was at the time, and what it added added to the American pop culture for a few years.

                           

In front of us stood the Batmobile.

Next stop: Gotham City.

I realized our heroes needed help so I jumped into action as the new character, Aztec Dilly Dilly.  I believe this made me the first action hero to be on blood thinners.

Costumes from the show were prominently displayed.  Oh, that Catwoman!

Speaking of Catwoman, here she is with some other Batman villains The Riddler, The Penguin and The Joker.

Just like the show, the exhibition is campy … and lots of fun, full of happy memories (if you get the chance, see it before it leaves the day after St. Patrick’s Day).

We also learned some interesting trivia including that the first two 1966 episodes of Batman earned the highest TV ratings since the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Leaving Batman behind, we were at a display case with perhaps the most famous telephone operator in television history, Ernestine (aka Lily Tomlin). Her other famous role on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was that of Edith Ann, whose oversized chair was on display.

Around the corner, in a Blazing Saddles flashback, I wanted to give a Laurel … and Hardy hand shake to this comedic duo. This was a section that highlighted stars and equipment used in the early days of movies and entertainment.

It is here where Hope springs eternal.

Fast forward to the 60s, and you catch up to the characters from It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

We ran into famous (and infamous) Spokes-man Pee Wee Herman’s bicycle.

You never knew what was going to be in the next display case, which kind of makes the museum a little frustrating. It was time for costumes…

                                            

…and then a little about the movie Lassie.  It made me a little melon-collie.

Down the steps to explore the next floor, the first thing I saw was this Deanna Durbin photo.   She was one of my dad’s favorites, and my parents named my sister after her.

Although it wasn’t time to say goodbye to all our friends, the old Mickey Mouse Club exhibit brought back some fond childhood memories.

                       

Who did we see next?  None other than the Clampetts, who struck it big after Jed found that “bubbling crude.” Here they are driving to that mansion with the cee-ment pond.

              

There was memorabilia from shows like Rin Tin Tin, Dennis The Menace, Bonanza…

…along with Laverne and Shirley…

…and Dragnet.

They even let a Jeannie out of the bottle.

You can never have enough costumes.

Mr. Blackwell even had a section of his own and since he’s dead, he didn’t dis any of the other assorted costumes.

I found myself with an uncontrollable itch looking at this Marilyn Monroe dress, and posters of some of her other movies could also be seen.

                                                                                     

On the main floor are rooms where Max Factor worked his magic on the stars. There was a shrine to Lucy.

                                                        

This studio was where Lucille Ball was transformed from a brown-haired girl to that crazy redhead and Marilyn Monroe into a blonde bombshell.  Judy stopped by here, too.

                                      

All this make-up made me blush.

Wandering in the next section, we learned about Joe Ackerman, “Hollywood’s Beloved Autograph Hound.”

As you can see, he got his fair share, including most of the stars of these movies.

                     

We checked out Cary Grant’s Rolls Royce.  It would Take A Thief to get it out of here, and I don’t think I could have pulled off that Charade.

A quick stroll through the photo gallery…

        

…and soon we stood at the top of the stairs headed toward the dungeon. This area once was once a bowling alley (that’s probably why they have so many spare rooms) and, during Prohibition, a speakeasy.  Today it houses “all things creepy and scary.”

Descending at our own risk, we saw this guy who made no bones about us entering.

We thought this Hitchcock poster was for The Birds…

…and this cute couple caught our eye.

I had a sudden hankering for some Fava beans and Chianti…

…as we walked by Hannibal Lecter’s cell (photo courtesy of Hollywood Museum).

Making the turn, we saw red.

This picture made my head spin! I wasn’t going to look, but the devil made me do it.

There was lots of scary stuff.  It made me want my mummy.

There stood one of my favorites. In the early 80s, Cassandra Peterson (“wearing a revealing, black, gothic, cleavage-enhancing gown”)  hosted horror movies on KHJ TV in L.A. Her portrayal of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark certainly kept me a breast of all those horror movies.

She patterned her character after 50s horror hostess Maila Nurmi, known as Vampira, who stood nearby.

What the Hell…it’s not Friday the 13th, and the Kings are out of town!  Who is this guy?

Walking back outside we said our goodbyes to Marilyn.

The Hollywood Museum is a fun place to hang out, especially for those who are really into movies and television. It does have its shortcomings, however.  I wish it was laid out in a more cohesive manner from decade to decade, but considering it has to shuffle 10,000 items, I suppose that’s to be expected.

Overall, it was 90 minutes well spent and is one of the few places in Hollywood I would actually recommend to visit.

Hollywood Museum
1660 N Highland Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028
Phone: 323.464.7776
Tickets: $15
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday
Parking: Lot one block south of museum – $10
thehollywoodmuseum.com

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