In 2009, the famed Madame Tussaud’s wax museum finally opened a branch in the film capital of the world. It sure took them long enough! I’ve been to three other Madame Tussaud’s museums (in London, Amsterdam, and Las Vegas), and they’re pretty fun. The ticket prices are a bit high, but they let you stay there as long as you want, take photos, and even hang all over the wax figures. It’s a wonder they don’t let you take a piece home for yourself, haha!
I’d wanted to go to the Hollywood branch since it opened mainly because they have figures of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh from Gone with the Wind, but I kept putting it off because I figured there were better things to do with my $25. Yesterday I went up to meet with my friend Mark Mayes, and our main goal was to go see the Noel Coward exhibit at AMPAS. With plenty of time to kill afterword, we drove around downtown, and then decided to go up to Hollywood Blvd and give Madame Tussaud’s a try. If you’ve seen Mark elsewhere (such as on the vivien-leigh.com blog), you know he’s a huge old movie fan, and I knew that if I was going to go geek out in a wax museum, he’d be the perfect person to do it with. Nerds unite!
I have to say that the Hollywood museum has the most life-like figures out of any of the other Madame Tussaud’s that I’ve been to. Some of the people completely missed the mark, but the Vivien Leigh figure was the best, hands down. It looks so much like her–at certain angles! I can’t say the same for the Clark Gable one, though.
Movies and mayhem, here’s a sample of what ensued on our adventure:
Here are the rules and regulations:
1. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
2. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
3. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
4. Nominate 7 other bloggers, and post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
5. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.
7 things about me that surely no one cares about, but I’ll tell you anyway!
1. I used to play competitive soccer. When I was 16 I went to Europe with a team of girls from the West Coast and played in the second largest youth tournament in the world: the Coca-Cola Haarlem Cup in the Netherlands. We got second place! I was moved up to varsity my freshman year in high school, and was team captain during my senior year, and also got named MVP out of all the area high schools. I miss the glorious game. It’s also my dream to attend the World Cup.
2. I’m in love with the Criterion Collection and it’s my goal to one day watch all of the films on their roster.
3. Even though I live not far from Hollywood, I always do obnoxious touristy things whenever I go there (like today!).
4. My favorite autobiographies are The Moon’s a Balloon by David Niven, Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks, Self Portrait by Gene Tierney, and DV by Diana Vreeland.
5. I find the tragic stars most interesting. My top three faves are Vivien Leigh (really?), Carole Lombard, and Louise Brooks
6. One of the prettiest places I’ve ever been is the Pacific Northwest. Who knew Idaho was so gorgeous? It is. Very woodsy and misty.
7. I LOVE California. No matter where I roam, I think I’ll always come back here in the end. CA has everything–ocean (which I currently live by), mountains (which I grew up near–hey, Sierra Nevada), desert, etc. Yosemite is my favorite park (haven’t been? Please go, it’s beautiful!), and San Francisco is my favorite city here.
I hereby pass this award along to the following people/blogs, all of which I find interesting and entertaining.
Traci at for the love of guava
Tatiana and Marissa at tv rots your mind grapes
Leigh at scarlettohara.org
Almie at apocalypstick
Farran the self-styled siren
Meredith at vote for gracie–yah sorry, I just saw you also nominated me. what goes around comes around! lol
Nicole at vintage film nerd
I had a fun blog post planned about my adventures at the Noel Coward exhibit and subsequent visit to Madame Tussaud’s on Hollywood Blvd., but it’ll have to wait ’til later!
London’s National Portrait Gallery recently added some new Vivien Leigh photos to their online collection, which in itself always makes me really excited because they hide these things away and don’t display them for the public in the museum, so whenever they do put new ones up on the website, it’s like a discovery for me.
There are some beautiful sets of Vivien in the 1930s, but please allow me to flail over this particular one right now. This set by Cyril Arapoff taken around 1936, is one of the most ethereal things I think I’ve ever seen. I absolutely love the contrast of the lighting and shadows, and the fact that Vivien is not all dolled up. Tricia commented on my personal blog yesterday that the expressions Vivien has in these photos are almost somber. I have to agree. But look at how beautiful she is, and the contrast between the beauty of her face and her sweater, which is very plain in black and white (even though $10 says it was a bright color), is great. Despite the grainy quality (or maybe because of it), these feel very modern to me, and this might be my new favorite set of Vivien. They’re so different than most of the portraits we see of her. Ah, variety! The spice of life.
I find old celebrity autographs to be really interesting. The first one I ever got was Lauren Bacall at a book signing she did for her book By Myself And Then Some at Book Soup in Hollywood. It was an adventure for sure, and she was quite intimidating (and it didn’t help that I made a total ass of myself in front of her. I had planned to mention how I loved her and Bogie but all that came out of my mouth was “You were good friends with Larry and Vivien”. FAIL). Of course all of my other favorite celebrities are dead, so acquiring autographs took some work and a bit of good luck, along with the kindness of strangers.
I thought I’d share my collection thus far. It’s not overly big, but I love it!
One of my favorite things about living near Los Angeles is all of the fun events and screenings that are put on by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Currently, they’re hosting an exhibition about the “Master,” called “Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward.” Noel Coward is one of many people who’s work I became familiar with through my fascination with the Oliviers, as he was a long-time friend of both Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. He was a famous playwright and teamed up with director David Lean in the 1940s to produce what have become two of my favorite films, Brief Encounter and Blithe Spirit. Laurence Olivier’s stage career was practically launched by Noel, who gave him the part of Victor Prynne in Private Lives in 1932, and Vivien Leigh worked with him in the 1956 production of South Sea Bubble and again in the 1959 play Look After Lulu.
I’ve been on quite a Noel Coward kick for a couple of years now. Just this Christmas I received The Noel Coward Diaries, and saw a fabulous documentary called The Noel Coward Trilogy, in which Noel’s partner, Graham Payne, said Laurence Olivier liked to smoke a bowl whenever he and Vivien visited Noel at Blue Harbor in Jamaica, which I thought was hilarious. Though Noel had a lot to say about the Oliviers in his diaries, it is quite hard to find longer passages of people, especially Vivien Leigh, talking about Noel. Luckily for your reading pleasure, I’ve found a terrific story by Vivien. This is from a collection of remembrances about Noel called The Pleasure of His Company: Noel Coward Remembered by William Marchant. I think this story really shows something of Vivien’s friendly character.