The Hollywood Museum, Los Angeles, USA

Posted on July 15, 2012 by


After lunch at Mel’s Diner (featured in American Graffiti) I decided to walk next door to the Hollywood Museum and peruse the showbiz delights…

The lady at reception gave a lively account of the best direction to head in… the ground floor had a screening of the history of Maksymilian Faktorowicz, who used to own and operate in the museum’s art deco building. It was interesting to learn about the way Max Factor developed solid lipstick, mascara and the idea of colour harmony that we all take for granted today.

You can also explore some of the rooms where the make-up artists operated. In the late 1910s Max Factor came up against the problem of lip pomade running under the hot film industry lights, he overcame this by placing his thumb on the bottom lip and twice on the top lip, thus creating the bee stung look that became incredibly popular.

Then a complete change of scenery, down to the basement, which was a speakeasy during prohibition, and now houses memorabilia from numerous horror, historical and adventure films. The scene was set by some exceedingly eerie music…

You walk straight into the same jail cell corridor where Jodie Foster questions Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. The other cells have costumes displayed from The Walking Dead, Dexter and Freddy Vs Jason which is very fitting and reminded me how much work must goes into movie and TV making, so many details to consider.

There is so much to see from Cleopatra, Frankenstein to Indiana Jones.

They have the Holy Grail and the notebook containing the Grail Story from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, one of my all time favourite films!

The 1st floor up currently houses Marilyn Monroe: The Exhibit, on the 50th anniversary of her passing. There are some choice quotes scattered around from this fascinating character. I love Marilyn Monroe, she is    funny and exceptionally beautiful but I always feel an underlying deep sadness in her.

The exhibition is made 3D by the quotes of photographer and MM’s friend George Barris, they bond the photographs, dresses worn by Marilyn and memorabilia into the story of a real human being not just the blonde hair, hourglass figure and adorable giggle which made her famous. Learning the history of Marilyn’s modelling career and ascension into the film world gave me an understanding of how hard she worked and what a down to earth person she remained.

You can see the million-dollar honeymoon dress, worn on her honeymoon for her marriage to Joe DiMaggio, the prescription pill bottle and the Decodron vial found next to her bed at the time of her death and a rare family photographs of Marilyn Monroe. So much to see, the exhibition is on til September 2nd.

Go up to the 2nd floor and you’ll find a whole world of excitement. The images above from top left clockwise you can see, the orginal Superman costume worn by Christopher Reeve, a poster form the Elvis film Tickle Me, Sylvestor Stallone’s Rocky costume and Roddy McDowall’s Powder Room. I had never heard of Roddy McDowall before but I was captivated by the presence of his bathroom. He was a British actor who starred in Planet of the Apes and became notorious in Hollywood for collecting things and his dinner parties. The dinner parties would be themed according to who was in town, they were known for their bad food and everyone wanted to visit the Powder Room where he would display some of the items he’d collected. Guests included Dolly Parton, Brad Pitt, Winona Ryder, Bettie Davis, Shirley Temple… no doubt some important relationships were forged there.

Above clockwise from top right are a collection of amusing movie posters, Rat Pack memorabilia, some of Mae West’s outfits and pictures, top left you can see a display devoted to Jose Iturbi. Jose Iturbi was a conductor and pianist who appeared in several Hollywood films, there is a foundation set up in his name devoted to bringing classical music to a wider audience.

“I feel that classical music should be a more recognizable part of everyone’s entertainment. It has been my hope that through live concerts, motion pictures, recordings, international competitions, and interesting public forums, a larger group of people will learn to love classical music and attend live concert performances.”

– José Iturbi, Beverly Hills,California,1950

All in all the museum is well worth a visit, there is so much to see and some insightful perspectives into a world many people idolise. Highly recommended!

Entry Fee: $15

Location: 1660 North Highland Avenue  Hollywood, CA 90028