Madame Tussauds wax figures are one of those rare enigmas of an ancient art that has not only lasted but has flourished when, by all accounts, it has been surpassed by technology.
When we want to see what famous people look like all we have to do is sit down at a computer or TV and we can find out more than we ever really needed to know. We can find out what they look like, where they eat, who they are dating, who they are not dating, or even what they did last night.
With all this information out there why do wax figures of famous people still have the ability to draw us in?
Personally, I don’t know, although the robust line to take a photograph with Captain Jack Sparrow was probably a pretty good clue. I hadn’t thought much about it until Reuters television producer Alicia Powell called me to ask if we were interested in doing a picture package along with a television package on how these figures are made. The pictures department agreed that it was a rare chance to cover the process and we agreed that it could make a nice package.
I was curious to see how they manage to make such realistic likenesses of everyone from famous despots to the latest and greatest in Hollywood glitterati. The process is quite detail-oriented and unbelievably thorough. We met with producers from Anderson Cooper’s new daytime talk show, Anderson, and the people from Madame Tussauds in a hotel room in New York in June. At first glance it looked like pretty much every other hotel room I have been in for press availability portraits; the off-white satin covered walls, big gold curtains, windows with a fascinating view, and lots of really nice wooden furniture was all par for the course.