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At Wax Museum, the Ending Is Bidder-Sweet

Times Staff Writer

Daniel Roebuck showed up at Buena Park’s Movieland Wax Museum on Saturday with one major goal.

“I want their Frankenstein to live in my house,” said the 43-year-old Los Angeles actor, writer and monster collector.

Roebuck was one of about 400 movie fans who came to bid in the daylong “Everything Must Go” auction at the museum, which closed last Halloween after a 43-year run. Owners attributed declining attendance to rising competition from nearby amusement parks.

The auction, which featured about 500 items, happened simultaneously over the Internet.

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Items included movie characters with their sets, props and a collection of cinema memorabilia dating to 1963.

“This is a piece of Southern California history,” said Edward D. Testo Jr., president of auction company Asset Reliance Inc. “It’s a little bit of Hollywood. People have a chance to own a celebrity.”

Well, not exactly, but the likeness in wax anyway, including icons such as Bette Davis, George Burns, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and Andy Griffith.

Roebuck said he also had his sights on Griffith because he was a friend.

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“It would be neat to have the figure of a friend,” said Roebuck, who played legal assistant Clifford Lewis for three seasons on “Matlock,” which starred Griffith.

While Roebuck’s tastes tended more toward the nostalgic, aficionados of more contemporary figures could admire the likes of Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Jackson.

Some bidders were interested in more than just celebrities. Hollywood screenwriter Scott Alexander, 42, said he was hoping to acquire various gargoyle-like “horror figures” to use as Halloween decorations for his house.

“I love this stuff,” Alexander said. “I had all my birthdays here as a kid.”

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Chris Doohan, 46, whose father, James Doohan, played Scotty in “Star Trek,” had hoped to buy the figure of his dad, who died last year at 85.

But the bidding was a little high for the medical technician -- the wax figure fetched $4,200.

“I had a feeling it would go for a high number,” said Doohan, who downplayed his disappointment by saying the piece was not in pristine condition.

Nearby, Roy Aletti, 47, owner of a hardware store in Harrison, N.Y., was anxiously awaiting a crack at Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.

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“I heard about [the auction] and booked my flight right away,” said Aletti, who added that he has a large collection of wax figures at his home. “It sure scares the heck out of burglars,” he joked.

The auction was expected to last into the evening. By midmorning, two of the biggest bids belonged to Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, which fetched $25,000, and a “Wizard of Oz” scene featuring Judy Garland, which sold for $33,000.

Garland’s Oz scene went to George Krikorian, owner of the Southern California theater chain bearing his name.

Krikorian also bought figures of Marilyn Monroe, George Burns, Mary Pickford, W.C. Fields and Jean Harlow.

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“We want to put them in our theaters,” he explained.

How much had he spent so far?

“I don’t know yet, I don’t want to look,” he said. “The biggest thing I’m worried about is how I’m going to move them.”


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