Saturday, 5 March 2011

Museum of La-La

While researching my post in tribute to the centenary of the birth of Jean Harlow over at Give'em the old Razzle Dazzle earler this week, I was delighted to discover that her memorabilia had found a home in what sounds to be a most delightful institution, The Hollywood Museum! Not to be confused with Debbie Reynolds' ill-fated attempt to create "Hollywood Motion Picture Museum", this museum is in the heart of La-La-Land, and sounds like a place I would love to visit (of course!).

Here is what I have discovered about this magnificently camp establishment...

The Hollywood Museum, considered the official museum of Hollywood, is located inside the famous Max Factor Building at 1660 North Highland Avenue. The museum's location is the site where make-up wizard Mac Factor began "doing up" Hollywood movie stars in 1935.

Once unused, the Max Factor Building was purchased by real estate developer Donelle Dadigan from the Proctor & Gamble company in 1995 and slowly converted into the Hollywood Museum. It reportedly cost Dadigan more than $7 million to restore, repair, and stock the museum and renew it in order to help it become the home of Hollywood's movie history. Besides Dadigan, some of Hollywood's biggest and best-known names have contributed to the establishment, growth, and maintenance of the museum, including director Francis Ford Coppola, Johnny Grant, the honorary mayor of Hollywood, actress Shirley MacLaine, television personality Leonard Maltin, and producer Dino de Laurentis.

Being located in the heart of Hollywood certainly has its privileges, as the museum has collected enough "artifacts" to boast arguably the largest and most significant collection of Hollywood movie memorabilia in the world. Few places are home to more important pieces than the Hollywood Museum. With four floors and more than 35,000 square feet of space, along with an additional floor dedicated to special events, the Hollywood Museum is home to more than ten thousand pieces of movie memorabilia.

Of the museum's many possessions, some its most prized and popular include the boxing gloves from the original Sylvester Stallone movie Rocky, Marilyn Monroe's million dollar honeymoon dress, Elvis Presley's favorite bathrobe, the whip from the Indiana Jones movies, and the swing from the movie Moulin Rouge. Among the many items in the museum's collection are costumes from classics like Gone With The Wind and I Love Lucy, as well as personal effects from the likes of Tom Cruise, Marilyn Monroe, Will Smith, Charlie Chaplin and Bob Hope.

On the museum's ground floor, which includes the magnificently remodelled lobby and Max Factor make-up rooms, is a collection of thousands of vintage black and white photographs related to Hollywood's history - the largest of its kind anywhere. The ground floor is also the location of Cary Grant's personal Rolls Royce, as well as several major pieces of memorabilia from Jurassic Park and The Wizard of Oz.

Costumes, props, and photos make up the contents of the second floor, which also includes a bed from the movie Gladiator and the gold Cadillac from Dreamgirls. The museum's basement is a fan favorite. Once a speakeasy during the days of Prohibition, the basement is now the home of Hannibal Lecter's prison cell and his mask. Recently, the museum's basement has been used as the focal point of a Halloween attraction known as the Chamber of Horrors, which showcases memorabilia from ten of the most popular (and scary) movies of all time.

And now the museum plays host to Jean Harlow at 100, the world's largest exhibit of memorabilia saluting the original "Platinum Blonde" and "Blonde Bombshell" who defined glamour and sex appeal during the early days of Hollywood's Golden Age.

In terms of size, the Hollywood Museum is measurably larger than several surrounding museums. In terms of square footage, the Hollywood Museum is more than twice as large as both the Guinness World Record Museum and the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum combined.

Built upon a slow but sure labour of love, the Hollywood Museum (a not-for-profit corporation) in the Max Factor Building arose from Dadigan’s passion for maintaining the history of Hollywood and her desire to give something back to the community. She spends more than $1,000,000 of to her own money each year sustain the museum.

The Hollywood Museum


  1. my old stomping grounds! used to visit many times...back in the 90's, (My Michael loved it so) not sure its still there now...must check out again, maybe a utube video for you (you have inspired me yet again!)

  2. I am packing my Louis Vuitton hat-boxes for a VIP visit as we speak... Jx


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