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Star Museum in Abingdon Virginia

Errol Flynn's swim trunks
Errol Flynn's swim trunks
Fran Folsom

Robert Weisfeld, a native Virginian, has housed his Star Museum in his stunning Greek Revival building in downtown Abingdon Virginia. Built in 1840 the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was once home to the Weisfeld family newspaper the Abingdon Virginian. The paper started in 1841 and continued until Robert closed it in 2006.

Robert spent many years in New York City and returned to Abingdon to run the family newspaper. He is a charming man, handsome and quite a combination
for quiet little Abingdon, Virginia, but with roots back to the American Revolution
on both sides.

When I visited the museum’s front windows were devoted to Liz Taylor and Elvis. In Elvis’s window his dressing gown was draped across a chair near a table that held his prescription bottles in the corner a picture of Elvis as a young man. Liz’s window had posters from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Butterfield 8 along with a book about her.

You would think that with all the old movie posters, dresses, suits, etc that the place would smell musty and be devoid of character, it didn’t and isn’t. Robert has expertly arranged each display, devoting entire tables to some stars. On the walls are several of Robert’s hand painted lithographs of various stars.

There’s a picture of Marlon Brando that’s held up by a plastic dummy of Dean Martin. You can also view a striped tie worn by William Holden in Sunset Boulevard, the black hat and dress worn by Gloria Swanson in the same movie, and tea towels with AH for Alfred Hitchcock embroidered on them.

In a place of prominence is a black and white photo taken by Annie Leibovitz of a naked John Lennon and Yoko Ono entwined together. It was taken 5 hours before Lennon was killed. The wall behind it holds a photo of Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates, the character he played in the TV show Rawhide, 1959 – 1965.

On another wall is a purple and green Gucci slip worn by Sharon Tate. It hangs near the space dedicated to Lucille Ball where you see the “infamous” maternity top worn by Lucy in the episode where she gives birth to Little Ricky. Also pictures of her as the Vitaminaveggie woman, autobiographies of her, pictures, and hankies with her lipstick mark. Robert told me that at least 500,000 people a day from all over the world are watching episodes of I Love Lucy.

There are nooks and crannies dedicated to Ava Gardner and Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe with magazine covers with their images on them, clothing, and pictures. Hanging near that is a dark velvet bathrobe of Clark Gable’s with his initials on it, and a Hate Asbury dress that was worn by Janis Joplin. On the walls are death masks of Marlon Brando, Liz Taylor, and Richard Burton.

There’s a purple sequined evening poncho that was Liz Taylor’s and shoes, and handkerchiefs that belonged to Jean Harlow.

Suspended above all this is the one of the flowing purple dresses worn by Agnes Moorehead when she played Endora on the TV show Bewitched. Underneath it Robert has playfully placed a red handled straw broom in tribute to Ms. Moorehead.

Encased in glass are a pair of Errol Flynn’s swim trunks from the 1930’s with a poster of Flynn.

One of Robert’s prized possessions, which only he can handle, is Marlon Brando’s script from Reflections In A Golden Eye with Brando’s personal handwritten notes in the margins.


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