Houses of Wax

I love wax museums, they’re a guilty pleasure of mine. I think wax museums are like bio-pics: really bad ones are so much more enjoyable than really good ones. I have not yet been to the new Madame Tusaud’s in Times Square, but I plan to go—say, maybe that would make a good NY Doper’s outing?

One of my favorite bad wax musuems is in New Orleans: all the figures are dusty, historically inaccurate and falling apart. My favorite tableau has Sarah Bernhardt, Enrico Caruso and John Wilkes Booth performing for Jenny Lind. Caruso’s hand has dropped off and is lying at his feet, and Madame Sarah—who is curtseying—seems about to lose her head, to Jenny Lind’s apparent fascination.

Anyone have any favorite wax musuem stories? Anyone here ever work at one?

I used to go to wax museums all the time. One I visited frequently was “Louis Tussaud’s” in Atlantic City. It had a particularly gruesome and gory “Chamber of Horrors”.

The Boston Wax Museum used to be right on the Common, but it was sold about 25 years ago. The wax figures were then moved to a nightclub (called “Dummies”), but that didn’t last long.

The most disappointing wax museum was THE Madame Tussaud’s in London. You’d think that they would be the BEST, but most of the figures didn’t really look much like the real people. The Museum was filled with figures of obscure (to me, the Ugly American) European and African heads of state. The most disappointing part of all was the Chamber of Horrors. No Scalpings or Iron Maidens or people suspended by a Turkish Hook through the belly (all as in Louis Tussaud’s). Instead of a dark, castle-like Keep with garishly lit horrors you got a spacious and well-lit room filled with tweedy-looking men who had murdered their wives in their sleep. I can only conclude that, Hammer films to the contrary notwithstanding, the British have a different definition of Horror.

Niagara Falls, Ontario - Clifton Hill area - I remember several wax museums there (something like 8), including the “Michael Jackson Wax Museum”. Since there was so much to do in the tourist area, we only went into the Madame Tussaud’s: if I remember correctly, there was a tightrope stretched between buildings and over the street, as an advertising gimmick for Mme.'s place. The Chamber of Horrors was pretty gross - showing how they would put slaked lime on someone’s eyes, (ewwwwww!) or having their feet licked by a goat, abrading the skin and tickling them to death. Not much fun for a nine-year-old. Brrrrrr.

Locally, there is a “Presidents Wax Museum” in Clermont, near the Citrus Tower (Rte 50 and 27, far enough from the fires so no chance of melting). Now that you mention it, I may take a drive over there this weekend to see if they finally put in GWB; at last report, they were waiting for him to be shipped in.

Oh, Cal—I used to go to the Tussaud’s in Atlantic City, too! They really did have a good Chamber of Horrors; and did you notice they used the same head mold for Jean Harlow and Cleopatra?

I wonder if it’s still there, or if it was swept away with the rest of the Victoriana when the damn casinos took over . . .

When I was there, they had a display of Gary Gilmore being executed by firing squad. Pretty cheesey.


Sad to say, but I think that Louis Tussaud’s place is long since gone. he inexorable March of the Casinos has obliterated virtually all of pre-1974 Atlantic City. The Steel Pier is virtually gone, and so is most of the stuff I sed to visit in my youth.

Isn’t that located just above his neck?


I have only been to one wax museum and that was at Lake George in upstate NY. It was only a chamber of horror and had some good stuff and some really cheesy ones. There were several scenes from E.A. Poe books. They also included a little tableu of Poe writing at his desk. (so it had one historical) I liked it but I can’t imagine going and looking at a wax figure of Woopie Goldberg and Larry King being much fun at all. Unless they were hanging by a big hook or something.

I seem to recall a wax museum in early 20th century New York. I believe Vincent Price was the proprietor. He had a real fascination with Joan of Arc, if I remember correctly. I think they closed it down after they figured out that he was actually dipping people in wax - that was how he got such lifelike figures.

And another thing, Charles Bronson was his mute assistant.

Now where did I put those 3-D glasses…

There actually was sorta a real precursor to that Vincent Price movie: a bank robber who was hanged in the early 20th century was mummified and wound up decades later as an exhibit in a chamber of horrors. Wasn’t this covered in one of Cecil’s books?

Cal—one of the few remaining bits of “Olde Atlantic Citie” is the Ritz-Carlton, where my grandmother lived. I remember crying when they tore the Traymore down . . . Remember Mr. Peanut, and the diving horse?

You bet there was…it was called THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, it was shot in the two-color Technicolor process and released by Warner Brothers in 1933, it was directed by Micael Curtiz and starred Lionel Atwill, Glenda Farrell, and Fay Wray, and it was a MUCH cooler movie than HOUSE OF WAX.

It also scared the bejeesus out of my Momma when she was a seven-year-old girl. Why do people TAKE children to such movies?

Yes, but did it have the scene where the guy is out front on opening night dressed in top hat and tails and playing with that little paddle and the ball attached by the rubber band?

I can see the story conference now…“We’ve just got to think of some more ways to get the 3-D effect into this picture. Any ideas?”

Yes, but did it have the scene where the guy is out front on opening night dressed in top hat and tails and playing with that little paddle and the ball attached by the rubber band?

I can see the story conference now…“We’ve just got to think of some more ways to get the 3-D effect into this picture. Any ideas?”

Lionel Atwill…the man you loved to hate.

Eve said:

…did you notice they used the same head mold for Jean Harlow and Cleopatra?

No, I didn’t I’m sorry to say. I’m more the kind of guy who notices that the head of “Spot” the dragon in The Munsters is the same as the head of the T. Rex in “The Land Unknown”.That comes of being raised on “Famous Monster of Filmland” rather than… I don’t know … Hollywood Confidential or whatever. I’m from the Horor and Monster Movie slum.
I saw The Mystery of the Wax Museum. It was a 1930s COLOR production from Columbia, and was thought to be “lost” for the longst time. It’s now out on video, along with other forgtten Columbia color horror films like “Doctor X”. We think of Universal when we think of horror, but in a slightly different universe, one wher Columbia promoted its product on TV in the 1950s and 1960s, we’d be eating “Doctor X” cereal (“shaped like Xs”) instead of Count Chocula, and waching big-budget remakes of "House of Wax instead of “The Mummy”.

I don’t recall its name, but there is one in Victoria on Vancouver Island, B.C., which my family used to visit whenever we went up there from Seattle. My sister and I used to zip past all the boring famous people and head straight for the Torture Chamber. Oooohhh, it was gruesome. We loved it. We’d wander through looking carefully at the Iron Maiden and the meat hooks and whatnot, feeling shivery and faintly ill. It’s a wonder our parents let us go in there-- Mom wouldn’t even look. The figure I remember the most clearly was a skinny man in a shift, who was sitting with his arms wrapped around his legs in a tiny box that had spikes on all the walls and the ceiling, so that if he’d moved, he’d have been stabbed.

I haven’t been there in years, but I’m sure it’s still there. I wonder if I’ll let my kids look at that sort of thing?

would you happen to have any interior photos of the wax museum in Atlantic city

Welcome to the board, LENNON71454. You can start a new thread about wax museums if you are interested, but this one is almost 10 years ago, so I’m closing it.