Friday, November 09, 2007

Super LA memories

My series of 2D representations of my 3D photograph collection, taken with a Nimslo 3D camera, continues:

When I arrived in Los Angeles, in January 1984, I contacted Bjo Trimble, often better known as "the woman who saved Star Trek", and organised to catch up with her for several days of shared Star Trek geekiness with her family.

I had several people trying to organise, on my behalf, an "executive tour" through the (empty) sets of "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" at Paramount. The movie had not long finished filming, and was then in post-production. But it wasn't looking good; Susan Sackett, Gene Roddenberry's assistant, was on a rare one-week vacation out of town.

Bjo suggested I make a point of going to the more commercially-oriented Universal Studios tour, just in case the Paramount tour failed to materialise (which is what happened, sigh), but also: the La Brea Tar Pits (I was shocked that I didn't need to take a left turn at Albuquerque!); and the (now defunct) Movieland Wax Museum, only a block from Knott's Berry Farm at Buena Park.

I was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful layout of this wax museum. While some of the likenesses failed to emulate the superior figures of London's Madam Tussauds', Movieland Wax Museum excelled in its presentation of each exhibit. I loved the way visitors were tantalised into guessing each upcoming exhibit as they wandered around its maze of corridors. A path gradually changed to yellow pavers... and, around a corner, there were the characters of "The Wizard off Oz"! The trail gradually turned to gravel, and there were the brothers and Dad from "Bonanza"! Distant cheers from a huge crowd led to the just-ended chariot race from "Ben-Hur". Electronic beeps and a droning female computer voice led one right onto the bridge of the USS Enterprise with the "Star Trek" crew.

And an unexpected chilled breeze led to...

3D Superman

Superman's Fortress of Solitude! Wow! That was a moment where the hairs rose on my neck. There, in one corner, the imposing figure of the Man of Steel himself, looking oh so very Christopher Reeve, and even wearing an authentic costume from "Superman: The Movie". It was quite breath-taking.

I even braved "The Black Box", which was a relatively new section dedicated to horror movies, such as "Friday the 13th", "Alien" and "Halloween". I didn't realise, until buying the View-Master reel sets for the museum in their gift shop, that there had once been an accompanying "Palace of Living Art" exhibit (which lives on at San Francisco's wax museum). "The Black Box" at Movieland was part of a major renovation.

It was an amazing day - thanks for the tip, Bjo! I ran out of time to revisit the museum in 1992 - and I was saddened to hear that the museum finally had to close its doors in 2005. They auctioned off most of its figures, sets, and props. According to a fan web page, the "Star Trek" main cast went to a fan for $34,000 in the auction. The Elizabeth Taylor-as-"Cleopatra" figure brought in $25,000. The Christopher Reeve-as-"Superman" figure sold for $16,000 (coincidentally, just days after the death of the late Reeve's widow), and "Elvis" went for $14,000.

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