Hollywood Stars Come to Paris

Hollywood Stars Come to Paris
It’s the only place in Paris to see Hollywood’s biggest stars, and for just 8 euros. The Musée de la Poupée’s newest exhibit opened April 2; “Hollywood Stars as Dolls” features toy versions of everyone from Greta Garbo to Johnny Depp, tracing decades of the silver screen’s biggest names. Yes, Paris has a doll museum, and no, it’s not on everyone’s radar. It’s just steps from the Pompidou Center in the Marais. The museum houses an adorable collection of dolls dating from 1800 onward, though the older painted ceramic faces are the stuff of nightmares for some visitors. The new exhibit, however, has something to offer to fans both young and old. It’s a surprisingly captivating exhibit, even for those of us who aren’t necessarily into dolls. After wandering through the more historical galleries, visitors find themselves in the temporary exhibit space, boasting two rooms of carefully curated Hollywood characters. Casual movie fans will instantly recognize the more than 100 dolls on display. Some of the dolls, featuring icons like Josephine Baker, Charlie Chaplin, and Shirley Temple, date from the 1930s. Most of the exhibit, however, includes more modern figures from the 1950s onwards. Think Olivia Newtown John as Sandra Dee form Grease, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca from Star Wars, and even Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music. Children of the 90s will recognize Madonna in Dick Tracy and Danny de Vito from Batman Returns. Even today’s tweens can check out dolls from the Twilight saga. Each window displays a different era or theme, like the more rugged dolls – if dolls can be rugged – portraying John Wayne and cowboy westerns. Fantasy film fans will appreciate displays dedicated to films like Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean. Music fans will appreciate the nods to various icons who transitioned into film, including both Cher and Barbara Streisand. The more impressive displays, however, focus on some of the industry’s biggest stars. Various incarnations of Audrey Hepburn fill one window, with dolls form Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady. Other powerhouses like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly also have their own displays, each sporting iconic looks that helped define theses actresses. The exhibit is a stark contrast from the often creepy old dolls that fill the museum, and it’s by no means boring – as far as doll exhibits are concerned. Seeing how toy companies have recreated some of the most beloved on-screen characters is actually fascinating. Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz looks blatantly like a man, while the Jack doll from Titanic is just downright weird. It’s a nostalgic and trippy visit that’s well worth the entry fee. The exhibit runs through September 3, 2016. Musée de la Poupée, 7 Impasse Berthaud, 75003 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 72 73 11. Open from Tuesday-Saturday from 1 pm to 6 pm. 8 euros entry fee.

Lead photo credit : Marilyn Monroe doll at the Musée de la Poupée. Photo: Bryan Pirolli

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Bryan Pirolli is a travel journalist and professor living in Paris since 2008. He’s made the rounds, having worked for Travel+Leisure, CNN Travel, DK Eyewitness Paris, Fodor’s, Time Out Paris, Le Pan, EuroCheapo, Expedia UK, and Thrillist. He has also been known to blog. He taught journalism at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, where he completed his PhD. In his spare time, Bryan also offers tours for LGBT travelers through his initiative The Gay Locals.