Thursday, November 04, 2010

Traveling Thursdays: Movieland Wax Museum

Although the Movieland Wax Museum is no more, the former attraction located near Anaheim still lives on in the hearts of those who had visited there.

Dedicated on May 4, 1962 by silent film star Mary Pickford, it was the home to almost 300 wax figures depicting famous celebrities—some better than others—in 150 different scenes. Despite the fact that some of the wax images bore little resemblance to the movie star, the sets and costumes showed an incredible attention to detail. Several actors and actresses attended the unveilings of their wax likenesses and even donated costumes for their wax counterparts. Other costumes were re-created for the displays (Garbo's costume cost $35,000 and took 125 hours to sequin by hand). Film studios also donated many of the props used in the scenes. Movie themes and sound effects also added to the authenticity of the museum. A movie clapperboard on each set included the name of the characters along with information about the movie, props, and costumes.

Harry Carey in “Trader Horn”:

Laurel & Hardy in “The Perfect Day”:

Charles Laughton in “The Private Life of Henry The VIII”:

Jean Harlow in “Dinner at Eight”:

Gary Cooper in “High Noon”:

Cliff Robertson in “PT 109”:

William Powell (good likeness) and Myrna Loy (not-so-good likeness) in “The Thin Man”:


Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in “The African Queen”:

Rudolph Valentino:

After 43 years and 10 million visitors, Movieland Wax Museum closed its doors on Halloween, October 31, 2005. About 50 of the celebrity figures were shipped to a sister museum in San Francisco and 80 others went to a Museum in South Korea. Many were put up for public auction, bringing in over a million dollars.

See more Movieland Wax Museum photos at my main website.


Connie Moreno said...

Just the other day I was driving by the building and wondering what happened to all of the stuff inside...and then you post this. Wow! Thanks for the info. I enjoyed going there as a kid and then went one last time in 1988 and found it to be a little sad looking.

Anonymous said...

Went here on a high school trip, (many moons, many buffalo).

I remember the African Queen tableau, also remember the Nancy Sinatra figure...

The rest, not so much. But the building and sign...woo woo!

JG (no profile today)

stu29573 said...

The PT109 water looks pretty real. Do you kow if it was epoxy?

outsidetheberm said...

That's real water, Stu.

An interesting bit from the auction: The PT109 set would be sold 'dry', of course , (without figures) but most of the interest in it came from the fact that the bottom was lined with what had to be hundreds of dollars in encrusted coins - tossed there as if a wishing well. It looked as though it hadn't been emptied out for a decade. The high bid got the whole thing!

Major Pepperidge said...

For some reason, taht PT-109 scene always stood out to me, maybe because of the real water.

I also remember a scene with Sophia Loren, and they piped in some of her Italian dialogue, which was weird.

"Charles Laughton" looks more like Orson Welles.

Daveland said...

Major - I have seen another photo showing the Charles Laughton/Henry VIII figure and it looks very much like the actor. This shot shows the exact same costume, but like you said...not a resemblance to Laughton at all. Not sure if the figure was switched out over the years or not.

stu29573 said...

That's cool about the water! I figured they wouldn't use real water due to difficulties with keeping it clean, etc. I wish I could have seen it!

Snow White Archive said...

What was the reason for its closing in 2005? Dwindling visitors?

Daveland said...

I believe it went through a few owners and lack of attendance and popularity in wax museums caused the closing.

TokyoMagic! said...

Dave, these are fantastic! I love the first one of the original sign (before they got the "Vegas" style signage.) Also, in the background of that shot is the Aztec Bowling alley, which became Wild Bill's Wild West Dinner Extravaganza and is now the Pirate's Dinner Adventure.

Karawang said...

interesting article,, thanks for sharing .. I am glad to read it because it adds to my knowledge