While some actresses are favorites, some become timeless. There’s no way you can overlook their work. In fact, some have actually transcended time and entered into what we call our 'collective imagination'. Their charm, aura, beauty, and talents have inspired many and continue to do so. No wonder, most of their hometowns have witnessed museums or special statues in their honor. As much as those give us a sneak peek into the culture of those times, they also make us delve deeper into Hollywood and its glitz and glamour.
Ava Gardner Museum, Smithfield, North Carolina
In 1959, Ava visited Australia with Gregory Peck who happened to be her co-star. While the duo was working on the movie, On the Beach by Stanley Kramer, she felt that the film’s story dealt with the world coming to an end and no other place but Melbourne would be the perfect place to film. One of the greatest movie stars of the 1940s, Gardner’s smoldering looks stole many hearts. Tommy Banks, a 12-year-old boy was smitten by the young Ava Gardner in 1939. It’s said that the actress once came and kissed the lad on his cheek!
A couple of years later, Tommy read the newspapers to find that Ava was associated with MGM. He collected all such articles about her career and even high-profile marriages with Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and then Frank Sinatra. Eventually, he grew up to be Dr. Tom Banks and his extreme collection constituted the primary exhibits in the museum. With time, Gardner’s extended family even added photos and mementos to the existing collection. Not to forget, Bert Pfeiffer (a Dutch artist) made a portrait of Gardner after seeing her in One Touch of Venus (1948) and continued adding one every year. The museum’s rich archives including movie posters, clippings, and images that can stun anyone!
The Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy, Jamestown, New York
Lucille Ball’s birthplace was Jamestown. It was only after her death that the town unveiled the famous Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum in 1996, dedicated to both Ball and Desi Arnaz, her husband. Though the couple didn’t stay together till the end, she became the first woman to have run a prime TV studio - a fact that visitors learn upon entering the museum. She was adorable in the sitcom I Love Lucy and that changed her career drastically. Though the show ran for only six years, it is credited to be the longest-broadcasted TV show of all time, only because of the reruns! There’s no dearth of recreational acts for visitors to engage themselves with inside the studio.
From mimicking the actress in the famous Viavmeatavegamin scene and getting someone to film those antics, browsing through the gift shop dealing in typical 1950s vintage clothing to checking out the final scripts, video clips, costumes of the TV studio sets and also taking the Lucytown Tour - there’s something for everyone. Ball envisioned that her hometown would be the place to celebrate comedy and three years back, Jamestown housed the National Comedy Center. Today, this attraction has been selected as the Best New Museum and also features among the World’s Greatest Places.
Judy Garland Museum, Grand Rapids, Minnesota
One of the grandest openings occurred in the US in 1975 for this museum that pays heartfelt tribute to the legend- singer and actress - Judy Garland. She was originally named Frances Ethel Gumm on her birth in 1922. The place is well connected to the house and you would see all such items that formed a basic part and parcel in Judy’s life including scripts, letters, and even props from the famous 1939 movie Wizard of Oz. Don’t forget to catch the rare glimpses of the amazing carriage that Dorothy and her companions traveled in through the stunning Emerald City or the fashionable clothing she slipped in while filming the scenes.
The complex contains a huge interactive play area called the Children’s Discovery Museum. Apart from the magical stuff, a section also houses the strife and struggles of Garland as she dealt with numerous issues in her career and personal life. In 2005, the museum made headlines when thieves broke in and stole the ruby slippers of Dorothy, valued at millions of dollars. Ultimately FBI recovered them, but it’s still an unsolved crime.
If all these sound amazing, imagine the fun you would derive from visiting! Check out the best tours to experience these Hollywood-inspired museums.