Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds and the London Planetarium

Madame Tussauds (UK: /tjˈsɔːdz/, US: /tˈsz/)[1][N. 1] is a wax museum in London; it has smaller museums in a number of other major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. It used to be spelled as "Madame Tussaud's"; the apostrophe is no longer used.[2][3] Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying the waxworks of famous and historical figures, as well as popular film and television characters.

History

Background

Marie Tussaud was born as Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in Strasbourg, France. Her mother worked for Dr. Philippe Curtius in Bern, Switzerland, who was a physician skilled in wax modeling. Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling beginning when she was a child. He moved to Paris and took his young apprentice, then only 6 years old, with him.[4]

Grosholtz created her first wax sculpture in 1777 of Voltaire.[5] At the age of 17, she became the art tutor to Madame Elizabeth, the sister of King Louis XVI of France, at the Palace of Versailles. During the French Revolution, she was imprisoned for three months and awaiting execution, but was released after the intervention of an influential friend.[4] Other famous people whom she modelled included Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin. During the Revolution, she made models of many prominent victims.[6]

Grosholtz inherited Dr. Curtius's vast collection of wax models following his death in 1794. For the next 33 years she travelled around Europe with a touring show from the collection. She married Francois Tussaud in 1795 and took his surname. She renamed her show as Madame Tussaud's. In 1802, she accepted an invitation from Paul Philidor, a magic lantern and phantasmagoria pioneer, to exhibit her work alongside his show at the Lyceum Theatre, London. She did not fare particularly well financially, with Philidor taking half of her profits.

She was unable to return to France because of the Napoleonic Wars, so she traveled throughout Great Britain and Ireland exhibiting her collection. From 1831, she took a series of short leases on the upper floor of "Baker Street Bazaar" (on the west side of Baker Street, Dorset Street, and King Street).[7] This site was later featured in the Druce-Portland case sequence of trials of 1898–1907. This became Tussaud's first permanent home in 1836.[8]

Origins

Poster for the Tussaud wax figures exhibition, Baker Street, London 1835.

By 1835, Marie Tussaud had settled down in Baker Street, London and opened a museum.[9] One of the main attractions of her museum was the Chamber of Horrors. The name is often credited to a contributor to Punch in 1845, but Tussaud appears to have originated it herself, using it in advertising as early as 1843.[10]

This part of the exhibition included victims of the French Revolution and newly created figures of murderers and other criminals. Other famous people were added, including Lord Nelson and Sir Walter Scott.[citation needed]

Some sculptures still exist that were made by Marie Tussaud herself. The gallery originally contained some 400 different figures, but fire damage in 1925, coupled with German bombs in 1941, severely damaged most of such older models. The casts themselves have survived, allowing the historical waxworks to be remade, and these can be seen in the museum's history exhibit. The oldest figure on display is that of Madame du Barry, the work of Curtius from 1765 and part of the waxworks left to Grosholtz at his death. Other faces from the time of Tussaud include Robespierre and George III. In 1842, she made a self-portrait, which is now on display at the entrance of her museum. She died in her sleep on 16 April 1850.[citation needed]

Bernard Tussaud finishes the wax figure of Lady Alice Scott and the Duke of Gloucester – 1935.10.16

By 1883, the restricted space and rising cost of the Baker Street site prompted her grandson Joseph Randall to commission construction of a building at the museum's current location on Marylebone Road. The new exhibition galleries were opened on 14 July 1884 and were a great success.[11] But Randall had bought out his cousin Louisa's half share in the business in 1881, and that plus the building costs resulted in his having too little capital. He formed a limited company in 1888 to attract fresh capital but it had to be dissolved after disagreements between the family shareholders. In February 1889 Tussaud's was sold to a group of businessmen, led by Edwin Josiah Poyser.[12]

The first wax sculpture of a young Winston Churchill was made in 1908; a total of ten have been made since.[13] The first overseas branch of Madame Tussauds was opened in Amsterdam in 1970.[14]

Ownership changes

In 2005, Madame Tussauds was sold to a company in Dubai, Dubai International Capital, for £800m (US$1.5bn). In May 2007 Blackstone Group purchased The Tussauds Group from then-owner Dubai International Capital for US$1.9 billion;[15] the company was merged with Blackstone's Merlin Entertainments and operation of Madame Tussauds was taken over by Merlin.[16][15] After the Tussauds acquisition, Dubai International Capital gained 20% of Merlin Entertainment.[17] The Tussauds Group as a separate entity ceased to exist.

On 17 July 2007, as part of the financing for the Tussauds deal, Merlin sold the freehold of Madame Tussauds to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury under a sale and leaseback agreement.[18] Although the attraction sites are owned by Prestbury, they are operated by Merlin based on a renewable 35-year lease.[16]

Recent status

Madame Tussaud's wax museum became a major tourist attraction in London. Until 2010 it incorporated the London Planetarium in its west wing. A large animated dark ride, The Spirit of London, opened in 1993. Today's wax figures at Tussauds include historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars, and famous murderers. It has been known since 2007 as "Madame Tussauds" museums (no apostrophe).

In July 2008, Madame Tussauds' Berlin branch became embroiled in controversy when a 41-year-old German man brushed past two guards and decapitated a wax figure depicting Adolf Hitler. This was believed to be an act of protest against showing the ruthless dictator alongside sports heroes, movie stars, and other historical figures. The statue has since been repaired, and the perpetrator has admitted that he attacked the statue to win a bet.[19] The original model of Hitler was unveiled in Madame Tussauds London in April 1933; it was frequently vandalised and a 1936 replacement had to be carefully guarded.[20][21][22] In January 2016, the statue of Adolf Hitler was removed from the London museum in response to an open letter sent by a staff writer of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, followed by significant support for its removal from social media.[23]

The first Madame Tussauds in India opened in New Delhi on 1 December 2017. Its operator, Merlin Entertainments, planned an investment of 50 million pounds over the next 10 years.[24][25][26] It features over 50 wax models, including political and entertainment figures such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Kim Kardashian, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie, Asha Bhosle, Kapil Dev, and Mary Kom.[27]

Museums locations

Asia

Wax figure of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain at the Madame Tussauds Museum in Shanghai, China

Europe

North America

Oceania

In popular culture

Celebrity poses with their wax figures

Many times celebrities pose like their wax figures as pranks and publicity stunts.

  • On 3 November 2009, the museum's New York City branch was featured in a segment on NBC's The Today Show in which weatherman Al Roker posed in place of his lifelike wax figure for two hours and startled unsuspecting visitors, who were at first led to believe they were viewing Roker's wax counterpart.[52]
  • In 2010, Ozzy Osbourne did similarly in New York to promote his Scream (2010) album.[53]
  • In 2012, One Direction posed as their statues in the London museum, as a prank for the TV series Surprise Surprise.[54]
  • NBA players Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin pranked fans during the unveiling of their statues at the New York and San Francisco museums, respectively.[55][56]
  • In 2015, Arnold Schwarzenegger posed as the Terminator statue in the Hollywood museum, to promote a charity event.[57]

Films

  • In Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, Mr. Hannay tells Pamela that his uncle is featured in Madame Tussaud's murderer section and that one day she will be able to take her grandchildren to Madame Tussaud's to see him.
  • Some sequences of the film Housefull 3 were shot in the Madame Tussauds, London.
  • Parts of the film Fan (2016) were shot at Madame Tussauds, making it the first Indian film to be shot there.
  • Madame Tussauds features in the film Shanghai Knights (2003).

Games

  • Marie Tussaud is featured in an Assassin's Creed Unity side mission, where the player is tasked with retrieving the severed heads of which Madame Tussaud was commissioned to make replicas.

Literature

  • There is a brief reference to Madame Tussaud's work in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Mazarin Stone."
  • In Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days, his author says that the only thing the wax figures sculpted by Madame Tussaud lack is speech.
  • In Elizabeth Bowen's novel The Death of the Heart (1938), Portia and Eddie have tea at Madame Tussaud's and Portia is disappointed that the waitresses are real and not made of wax.
  • In the novel Edgar Allan Poe and the London Monster (2016) by Karen Lee Street, Madame Tussaud meets twice with Edgar Allan Poe and C. Auguste Dupin at her exhibition halls.

Music

  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's song "My Object All Sublime", from The Mikado (1885), the title character sings of punishments fitting the crime, including:
The amateur tenor, whose vocal villainies
All desire to shirk,
Shall, during off-hours
Exhibit his powers
To Madame Tussaud's waxwork.

Stage productions

  • Marie Tussaud is mentioned in The Scarlet Pimpernel (first run on stage in 1903, first publication 1905).

Television

  • Madame Tussauds was featured in the History Channel series Life After People
  • In 2015, the judges of NBC show America's Got Talent posed in the New York Madame Tussaud's location and led visitors to believe that they were part of a special display, when they were actually real people (Season 10, Episode 18).
  • Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas was featured in Travel Channel`s Ghost Adventures.
  • In the Parks and Recreation episode "Indianapolis", Leslie Knope mentions the "Misshapen Celebrity Palace", a fictional tourist trap where Madame Tussauds sends their failed wax figures.
  • Madame Tussauds appears in an episode of the paranormal series Most Haunted
  • Madame Tussauds is mentioned in the British television series Being Human (Series 4, Episode 4)
  • Madame Tussauds is mentioned in the American-British drama series Penny Dreadful (Season 2, Episode 1).
  • Madame Tussauds is mentioned in episode 9 of Downton Abbey's 4th series as a possible destination for an outing for the servants following Lady Rose's coming out season.

List of notable wax figures

London

Beijing

Bangkok

Blackpool

Las Vegas

New York

Orlando

San Francisco

Shanghai

Hong Kong

Amsterdam

Vienna

Sydney

Gallery

See also

Copyright