Wax Museums

Wax Museums

As a kid, I remember being fascinated by wax museums. The first one I visited was in Orlando, FL., and I remember being mesmerized by the elaborate sets and the many iconic characters from my favorite films and television series. There was the entire Enterprise bridge from Star Trek – with a realistic representation of every crew member. Around the corner, Fonzie and the entire cast of Happy Days were kicking back at “Arnolds,” and Archie and Edith Bunker reclining in the familiar living room set of All in the Family. So enthralled was I, that I never really cared that I was basically looking at a bunch of human-shaped candles. I just remember that, to a 12-year old, all of it was very cool.

For well over 200 years, people have flocked to see their favorite celebrities and historical figures immortalized in wax, ever since a woman by the name of Marie Tussaud first exhibited her wax likenesses to enthusiastic Paris crowds in 1770. She would later open the first Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London in 1835, and almost two centuries later, tourists still come to see her original representation of Benjamin Franklin and other historical dignitaries.

The trend eventually caught on in America, with places such as the Hollywood Wax Museum and Movieland Wax Museum both becoming popular tourist attractions, and placing their emphasis far more on celebrities than history. Movieland, which opened in 1962, featured 150 sets, containing over 300 wax figures of notable entertainers. Just down the street from Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA., the museum sadly closed its doors in 2005, having been visited by some 10-million tourists over the years. Strangely enough, it’s familiar sign (as seen above) still stands, some five years after the attraction closed.

Today, Madam Tussaud’s remains the leader in wax museums, with locations scattered around the world in 15 major cities. In the United States, you can visit one of these museums in New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Washington D.C. Recently, at the London location, rocker Ozzie Osbourne enjoyed a fun day, scaring the pants off of his many admirers by pretending to be a wax figure there.

Now that we’ve watched Ozzie have his fun, let’s hear from you. Did you ever visit Madam Tussaud’s, Movieland, or any of the other wax museums scattered around the world, when you were a kid? Were you enthralled like I was, or did you find the whole experience a bit of a bore? Share your wax museum memories with all of us at Retroland in our comments section, as we take a look back at this enduring form of entertainment.

6 Responses to “Wax Museums”

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  1. NostalgiaTV says:

    I also have memories of seeing Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

    in London,England..Eric.

    Some of the exhibits like JFK were interesing..others like W.C.Fields

    and Liz Taylor..were forgetable.

    I still found it interesting.

    I’ve also been to The National Historical Wax Museum in Washington,D.C. back in 1968.

    The National Historical Wax Museum looked at many facets

    of American history via wax recreations..everything from The battle

    at The Alamo,to the life of Harriet Stowe,The Death of Lincon and

    the man who created anatheisa.

    I’ve also seen The Museum Of Famous People in NYC.

    This place exsisted long before Madame Tusauds built a NYC

    edition of her wax works.

    Here..The Museum Of Famous People looked at such famous

    individuals as Peter Minuet(The man who bought Manhattan for $24.00

    worthy of jewels from The Native Americans),Peter Stuyvestant

    (The former lord mayor of New Amserdam),The members of

    Tammany Hall,King John,Adolph Hitler,Harry Houdini,”The Beatles”,

    Audrey Hepburn and The Appollo Astronaughts.

    The Museum Of Famous People remained in business until the


    It was closed down and a Hallmark Card store moved in


    There was also a Ripley’s Wax Museum in NYC..that was

    on W.47 St.

    The exhibits were not much..the most memorable one to

    me, was one where “Superman”beats the hell out of a giant,

    hairy cyclops.

    The Ripley Wax Museum is also long gone.

    I’ve seen The Hollywood Wax Museum(Not to be confused

    with Buena Park,Cal.’s Movieland Wax Museum)..which has it’s

    own exhibits.

    Including ones that feature my heroes..L&H and”The Three


    The Hollywood Wax Museum is still in operation on

    Hollywood Blvd in L.A.,Cal.

    I’m sorry that I never got to see The Movieland Wax Museum

    in Buena Park,Cal.

    I’ve heard that it was an interesting place..with wax exhibits

    that featured such stars as L&H,”The Little Rascals”,Marlo Thomas,

    A&C,MGM’s”The Wizard Of Oz”,etc.

    I’m hoping that someone may one day do a documentary of

    that place..with film and videotape footage for us to see.

    Thanks For Sharing these rare looks of wax museums of

    the past and present,

    Kevin S.Butler Formerley”Nostalgia TV!”.

    • Eric Delapena says:

      The Museum of Famous People sounds like the museum I asked people if they remember and noone seems to recall the museum. There was a museum between two avenues around 50th street or so and you entered at street level and went down a flight of stairs. The exhibits were like you say – I remember clearly the Peter Minuet exhibit and there was one funny exhibit of a construction worker asleep. Do you have any more information about the Museum of Famous People?

  2. Leslie Hanna says:

    At my first visit to the Hollywood Wax Museum, I saw my godmother make fun of someone for the first time in my life. She didn’t have a cruel bone in her body, but this character brought it out of her!

    As we approached the figure of Nancy Sinatra (who was posed astride a Harley) a man from a foreign land, with the accompanying thick accent, began to shriek at us…”PLEASE, OH, LOVELY AMERICAN LADIES…PLEASE HELP ME TO FULFILL MY DREAMS….PLEASE PHOTOGRAPHING ME WITH MY LOVELY, LOVELY NONCEEE…OH, NONCEEE!!” We agreed to take his camera(s) (at least 3 as I remember) and he jumped the velvet rope to the area where his Noncee lived….he posed and mugged for us, as we snapped away….all the while moaning orgasmically..”oh, Noncee, my love, my only love, oh, Noncee, NonCEEEEE!! I am praying to you every night, my love…are you hearing me? Oh, my NONCEE!”

    To this day, the only thing I have to do to get Auntie Rose to crack up is whisper…”oh, Nonceeee”

  3. jennifer harris says:

    Movieland Wax Museum in Niagara Falls is closing,I heard.

  4. Gina says:

    They used to have one in Orlando near Sea World called Stars Hall of Fame–perhaps that’s the one the article talks about in it’s opening lines. I thought it was cool, though as a child, I was still unfamiliar with many of the movies and celebrities. I was disappointed it closed down.

  5. Preston Evans says:

    As the owner of the educational Follow the Leaders Wax Museum In Warm Springs, Ga., I agree that the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is over the top. The figures are marvelous, and the subject matter is up to date. I will be making a trip to see this work of art as soon as possible.
    Preston Evans

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