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Peek at Vintage Hollywood Enjoys a Star Quality

February 22, 1996|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

MGM must have fretted over just about everything while making "The Wizard of Oz." Just how tall should the tallest Munchkin be? Would a nasty witch's nose be longer than her chin, or vice versa? And that cowardly lion: a lean, mean dithering machine or a cuddly fur ball?

But did the studio really have to worry about which side Dorothy parted her hair on? That's one of the tidbits revealed in the Anaheim Museum's "Vintage Hollywood Movie Memorabilia," a collection of hundreds of posters, publicity stills, magazines, books, toys, trailers and other film-related stuff.

Judy Garland, the centerpiece of "The Wizard of Oz," is one of several Hollywood stars spotlighted. She just about fills two display cases, one devoted to her more glamorous years in the '40s (there she is looking almost sultry on the cover of Photoplay magazine), another to her beginnings.

The latter display has the pre-production shot of Garland, all dressed up as Dorothy but looking unusually pensive. She's not the bubbly girl skipping down the Yellow Brick Road, but a kid who appears to be going through a boring day before the art director. Scrawled next to the photo is the terse note "new dress and hair parted on the side."

The shot intrigued David Masters, a 58-year-old attorney from Santa Ana. Masters, who visited the museum on his lunch hour, was struck by the notion that what he called "the magical glory" of "The Wizard of Oz" had been carefully planned yet seemed so fresh on screen.

"Of course, I know that [the movies] always start that way, but you don't always think about it," Masters said. "I loved that movie as a kid, and I think it was because of the spontaneity and fun of it. . . . I see Judy here and it gives me another perspective."

Masters enjoyed the exhibit, saying that anyone interested in film might like the behind-the-scenes quality. Most of the show, he agreed, is fluff (there are more than enough publicity stills lining the small but packed room), but the costume design drawings, scenery sketches and other pre-shooting details are illuminating.

His friend, Eva Lamassa, nodded while checking out some of her favorite actors in photos she'd never seen. They include the late Gene Kelly, Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart and others in such movies as "Singin' in the Rain," "North by Northwest," "Gone With the Wind" and "The Maltese Falcon." On the female side, there are the usual suspects, including Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo and Marilyn Monroe.

"They've got the big ones," Lamassa, 38, said. "Did you see the shot of Liz Taylor? She's so young and pretty."

Lamassa was talking about a still from "Little Women," which was made in 1949 and also starred Janet Leigh, Margaret O'Brien and June Allyson. She's right, Taylor looks about as far from her Larry Fortensky days as can be imagined.

Abe Howard, 54 and from Anaheim, was drawn to the 90-minute compilation of movie trailers that plays on a TV in the center of the exhibit. He stood watching original previews for "Snow White," "Gone With the Wind," "The Sound of Music" and "How the West Was Won," among others.

"I saw all these [films] and I'm trying to remember if I saw the trailers," Howard said. "They [the trailers] were better then; they gave you more information."

Devin Frick, the museum's exhibit coordinator, said most of the exhibits were lent from a handful of private collectors, some in Orange County. Frick added that he hoped "Vintage Hollywood Movie Memorabilia" would show another side of the museum, which usually focuses on Anaheim and county history.

"I think [the museum has been seen] as a little sleepy," Frick said, "I just wanted to spice it up a bit."

* What: "Vintage Hollywood Movie Memorabilia."

* When: Through March 2. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, noon-4 p.m. Saturdays.

* Where: The Anaheim Museum, 241 S. Anaheim Blvd.

* Whereabouts: Exit the Santa Ana (5) Freeway at Lincoln Avenue and drive east. Turn south onto Anaheim Boulevard.

* Wherewithal: FREE (donations accepted).

* Where to call: (714) 778-3301.

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