Fran Drescher and Donelle Dadigan
The Hollywood Museum is located in the historic art deco Max Factor building.
Lily Tomlin was featured in a previous "Reel to Real" LGBTQ+ exhibit
Sculpted likenesses of Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin from the 1966-68 TV series Batman highlight the Superhero Legends exhibit
An Emmy Award won by Michael Learned for her role as Olivia Walton in The Waltons might seem to have little in common with one of Fran Drescher's outlandish costumes from The Nanny — unless you're at the Hollywood Museum, where both are displayed in tribute to those enduring television shows.
Costumes from the drag world are on view as part of the museum's annual "Real to Reel" exhibit showcasing the LGBTQ+ community's entertainment history and contributions, while Batman and Wonder Woman threads highlight a superheroes exhibit. Memorabilia from Happy Days is on the museum's schedule as well.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Hollywood Museum boasts an array of some 10,000 costumes, props, posters, cars and other items from television and film, housed in the historic Max Factor building just south of Hollywood Boulevard on Highland Avenue. The art deco structure is named for the makeup artist-entrepreneur who was a previous owner.
The museum is the early 1990s brainchild of Donelle Dadigan, then a teacher–turned–real estate agent, and her mother, also a former teacher, who wanted to give something back to the Hollywood community.
"Having been teachers, we were very interested in not only learning, but sharing with others," recalls Dadigan, the museum's president. "We realized that what people think of when they come to Los Angeles — besides Disneyland — is Hollywood and the entertainment industry."
Accordingly, she purchased the building from then–owner Procter & Gamble in 1994 and spent nine years restoring it, opening the museum in June 2003.
"The average visitor to Hollywood has no idea what goes on behind the scenes — the creative process, the business process," Dadigan says. "These shows help shape our lives. We're able to share this knowledge with visitors while we entertain them with artifacts and costumes and collections they're familiar with."
She also includes items of interest to industry members, such as storyboards, handwritten notes about projects and concept drawings.
One TV pro who has supported the museum since opening day is Alison Arngrim, who played Melissa Gilbert's nasty nemesis Nellie Oleson on the 1974–83 series Little House on the Prairie. The museum will launch an exhibit in December for that show's 50th anniversary.
"My mother used to buy her makeup [at Max Factor]," Arngrim says. "I remember coming there as a tiny child. I was ecstatic that the building was saved — and then it turned out to be a great place! They have all the best stuff and all the coolest stuff. Every time I turn around, I learn something. The people who work there are really nice, and they all seem happy to be there. It's a special place."
The article appeared in emmy magazine #8, 2023, under the title "A TV Treasure Trove."