Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hollywood Museum

Sick of Britneygate Debbie and I were craving a little of the glamorous spirit of Hollywood past so we trekked up to the Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building.

There are four floors of Hollywood artifacts and memorabilia. Even walking into the building you can feel the history that lived there - the stars that were made there. It's amazing.

Standing at the door to the museum is a mafioso looking individual who appears to be the doorman. I don't know what his purpose is, perhaps to lure in tourists, make deals on the street, no idea. Inside we were greeted by a woman who I'm sure was alive when Max Factor walked the halls. She took our money and our cameras. That's right, no photos anywhere in the building and to make sure you don't, you're forced to check your camera at the door.

A little shaken at the thought of leaving our precious cameras with a total stranger we pressed on. Once you leave the beautiful art deco lobby, dressed in white and pink marble echoing the building's glory days, there are two floors above you to explore and one beneath you.

The second floor is mainly devoted to costumes by the stars in well-known films. It was so amazing how different the clothing looked in person versus on the screen. It was much smaller and the colors were odd, especially for early technicolor process. For example, a costume from White Christmas is white on screen but in person its actually gold. I guess the lights completely washed it out.

The third floor is an odd assortment of Hollywood memorabilia, ranging from the gold sheath Elizabeth Taylor wore in Cleopatra to an amazing collection of clothing and items belonging to Marilyn Monroe. There is no rhyme or reason to the display of the collection and in many instances there is no description or explation where it comes from. There was no one from the museum around to answer questions either.

A trip to the basement, though scary, is worth the fright. They have the cellblock from Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon. The entire set is on hand including all original props. It was eerie. Next to it is an exhibit on Egypt and memorabilia from Elvira, quite the odd combination.

We spent about 45 to an hour on each floor. There is so much too look at and digest. It really is the glory of Hollywood past with a sprinkling of the present, just to make you feel like you're a part of it.

My favorite part of the tour were the famous Max Factor make-up rooms on the ground floor. Being the first to realize color theory Max painted rooms to flatter the complexion of women of a certain hair color. It's a cool blue for blondes, peach for brownettes, pink for brunettes, and mint green for redheads. It is said that it was Max Factor who made Lucille Ball a redhead and Marilyn Monroe a blonde.

It's amazing but I looked best in the pink and mint green rooms. So Max would have let me be a redhead or a brunette, but never a blonde or brownette (lighter shades of brown). All original props from these famous make-up rooms have been restored from original Max Factor make-up to mirrors, lights and the photos of the famous stars who got made up there.

Also on display on the ground floor is Cary Grant's Rolls Royce, the largest autograph collection in the world and a film about great Hollywood performances and actors.

There are so many artifacts in this museum its hard to digest the fact that you're looking at Bob Hope's golf clubs, next to the first editing machine, next to the body cast from Puffy the dog in There's Something About Mary. It's insane. (For a semi-complete list of artifacts on display click here.

If you're a fan of Hollywood glamour, this museum is a must see. It is extremely uncommercial. They don't even have a gift shop. But maybe that makes it more pure somehow. Who knows. I loved it.

Cost: $15
Hours: Open Thursday through Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed Monday through Wednesday.
Location: The Hollywood Museum: 1660 N. Highland Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028 (323) 464 7776


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clapboard said...

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Historical period films are those that are set in the background of a historical period with some exceptions.