In the 20th century Madame Tussauds’ role began to change. Thanks to the rapid growth of both popular tabloid press and public literacy, information about current events was easily acquired. The attraction gradually, therefore, became less a source of direct news, than a commentary on popular celebrity. It also came through some major upheavals, surviving near destruction by fire (1925), earthquake (1931) and World War II ‘Blitz’ bombing (1940.) Today, Madame Tussauds is bigger and better than ever, combining its diverse history with the relentless glamour, intrigue and infamy of 21st century celebrity.
Some of Madame Tussauds’ original work and earliest relics are still on display in London, including the death masks she was forced to make during the French Revolution and the Guillotine that beheaded Marie Antoinette. Guests can also marvel at probably the earliest example of animatronics –‘Sleeping Beauty’, a breathing likeness of Louis XV’s sleeping mistress Madame du Barry sculpted in 1763, is the attraction’s oldest figure on display.
And then there are the more contemporary, more interactive stars. From Brad Pitt, with his squeezable butt, to Kate Moss, alongside whom you can pose for the cover of a glossy fashion mag, the biggest names in entertainment, sport and politics are all dazzlingly represented; authentic down to the very last eyelash...
Finger On The Pulse
Madame Tussauds continues regularly to add figures that reflect contemporary public opinion and celebrity popularity – Bollywood kings like Shah Rukh Khan; Hollywood sirens such as Nicole Kidman; pop idols Timberlake and Minogue. The attraction also continues to expand globally with established international branches in New York, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Washington DC soon to be joined by new outlets in Berlin (July 2008) and Hollywood (2009) – all with the same rich mix of interaction, authenticity and local appeal.
A visit to Madame Tussauds is essential – where else can you savour two centuries of fame and notoriety, and tell the great and good exactly what you think of them? It’ll be your most famous day out ever!