Visiting with Dolly, Lucy and Sly

A Day Away by Mike Steely

Ever wonder how tall Dolly Parton is or want to stand beside Clint Eastwood? Those celebrities aren’t available for such visits but they are represented at the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge where hundreds of likenesses of famous people from television, movies, sports, politics and history can be found.

My wife and I visited the unique attraction recently and took our time wandering through the many parts of the attraction. We paused beside the figure of former President Barack Obama and I began to wonder just how many of those people we had seen in real life.  I recall seeing Obama speak at Pellissippi State College many years ago.

The figure of Tom Hanks’ nominal character from the movie “Forrest Gump” is sitting on a bench and we recalled visiting that exact spot in Chippewa Square in Savannah, Georgia. My wife’s favorite figure at the museum was Lucille Ball, staged to depict her famous “Vitameatavegamin” pitch. We recalled visiting Lucy’s hometown in Jamestown, New York, and touring the museum dedicated to her there.

Sylvester Stallone is decked out in his “Rocky” boxing robe and we’ve been to the steps in Philadelphia that his character ran up in that movie. We recalled visiting in Bath, British Columbia,  where “Rambo” was filmed.

We’ve seen Dolly Parton perform at Dollywood but I’m always surprised about how short she is. Obviously, she started on local television in Knoxville and I’m old enough to remember those days. I was amazed to find that another starlet, Judy Garland, was only 4 feet, 11 inches tall.

We strolled through room after room, each themed to a category including one that featured characters from famous horror films. My wife had to get a photo of me with the most famous Dracula of all time, Bela Lugosi. When we were dating, almost sixty years ago, I was into vampire books and movies and, if I recall, didn’t sleep too well during those late teen years.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s wax figure, in full Starfleet regalia, stands atop a transporter pad in one section of the museum. I was more a fan of the original Star Trek series but couldn’t help but step atop one of the other two transporters for a photo.

Melissa McCarthy, the “Mike and Molly” television series lead actress, stands beside a much taller Sandra Bullock. That show is over now but McCarthy pops up in television commercials.

Johnny Cash is depicted sitting near Dolly and I recalled seeing him back in the mid-1960s in a multi-star show in Clearwater, Florida. I remember he seemed to be a bit drunk in that performance but the “Boy Named Sue” performer had a wonderful and odd career.

Elvis is in the wax museum too, bringing back memories of our visits to Graceland, his mansion where he is buried, and to his birthplace in Tupelo, a simple “shotgun” house.

Like many folks who live in Knoxville, I often dread visiting the three Smoky Mountain towns in Sevier County. It now seems that the tourist attractions begin in Kodak at the I-40 turnoff and continue all the way through Gatlinburg. But going early is the trick, especially in the middle of the week.

Tickets to the Hollywood Wax Museum are $29.99 – $32.99 for ages 12 and up and children are admitted for $17.99. Children under age three are admitted at no cost. The museum is at 108 Showplace Blvd, just off the Parkway on the east side. An All Access Pass is available for a slight upcharge that also includes the Castle of Chaos, Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors and Outbreak-Dread the Undead attractions.

You can find the Hollywood Wax Museum on the internet or call them at (865) 428-5228.

If you’re looking for another way to return to Knoxville you might try Wears Valley Road and take the Foothills Parkway over to near Townsend, then return by way of Alcoa Highway. You can also drive back to Sevierville and take a left at the main light onto US 441 which becomes Chapman Highway and passes through Seymour taking you to downtown Knoxville.