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Debbie Reynolds Planning Movie Museum in Vegas

May 02, 1993|From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Entertainer Debbie Reynolds says movie memorabilia she has collected over the past quarter century will be featured in a museum at a hotel she has purchased here.

Reynolds, who has performed at most major Las Vegas resorts during her 44-year career, bought the former Paddlewheel Hotel, midway between the Las Vegas Strip and the city's convention center.

One of the features of the property will be a museum she has dreamed of building for more than two decades.

Her memorabilia collection is valued at more than $10 million.

In addition, the 61-year-old entertainer plans more than $15 million in renovations at the hotel, which is currently closed.

The property will be known as Debbie Reynolds' Hollywood Hotel-Casino and Motion Picture Museum. It will include 193 rooms with a Hollywood motif, and is scheduled to open in July, she said.

Reynolds, in interviews over the years, often talked of her dream of a Hollywood museum.

"It's been my goal since 1970," she said recently. "We live in an age of liquidation; liquidation in the name of progress. We should save our history."

"I tried to do this in Hollywood and didn't make any headway," she said last year.

Most of the memorabilia she has collected comes from the "Golden Years" of Hollywood--the 1920s through the 1950s. There will be some memorabilia from her hit films, such as "Singin' in the Rain" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." But most will be from other stars, such as Shirley Temple, Barbra Streisand, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, she said.

The museum will be modular to allow rotation of exhibits frequently, she said.

Reynolds, who has a home in Las Vegas, plans to narrate a historical film journey of the movie industry, and greet guests at the hotel. The entertainer, who became one of Hollywood's hottest stars after entering the business as a teen-ager in 1949, will also be featured in a 500-seat showroom at the hotel, to be known as Debbie's Star Theatre.

She recently recalled her first visit to Las Vegas as a teen-ager, saying she never dreamed she would become one of the city's headliners. She began working at the Riviera Hotel in the 1960s, and worked at the Desert Inn for 18 years.

She became known as the "million-dollar baby" when she signed a contract in excess of that amount with the Desert Inn. A photo of her sitting on a craps table surrounded by a million dollars moved around the world.

Reynolds bought the Paddlewheel from its former owners, Horn and Hardart Corp., in November, a spokesman said.

Reynolds had sought to make a deal on the Main Street Station hotel in downtown Las Vegas when the turn-of-the-century resort filed for bankruptcy protection three months after in opened in late 1991 but the deal fell through.

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