Seeing Stars: Hollywood Museums..

(now named "The Paley Center for Media")
465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA.
(310) 786-1000 or 310) 786-1025

This new Hollywood museum is actually a not-so-new New York museum.

The Museum of Television and Radio had been open in New York City for almost 20 years before they finally opened a west coast branch in Beverly Hills in 1996.

But it was well worth the wait for those of us in Hollywood.

How would you like to be able to push a button and listen to FDR's first fireside chat? Perhaps you would like to watch the final episode of "The Fugitive" ?  How about watching Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon? Or the Beatles debut on the "Ed Sullivan Show" ?  Want to hear Orson Welles' infamous "War of the Worlds" broadcast of 1938?  Or would the kids prefer to see the very first episode of "Rocky & Bullwinkle" ?

Well, you can see (and hear) it all at the Museum of Television and Radio, where visitors can sit down before one of fifty TV consoles and call up their favorite television programs from days gone by, or don earphones to listen to historic radio broadcasts.

Located in a sparkling, new three-level building within walking distance of Rodeo Drive, the Museum pays tribute to two media which helped shape our modern culture. This isn't just some private enclave for scholars. The Museum has collected over 90,000 television and radio programs, and it's all available to the general public. (Robert Redford did his research for "Quiz Show" at the museum).

Carol Burnett ("The Carol Burnett Show"), Alan Alda ("M*A*S*H"), Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown"), Lea Thompson ("Caroline in the City "), Sid Caesar ("Your Show of Shows"), Tori Spelling ("Beverly Hills 90210"), and John Lithgow ("Third Rock from the Sun") all turned out in person for the ribbon-cutting on opening day.


You may also notice that the various rooms have been named in honor of their celebrity sponsors: the Danny Thomas lobby, Aaron Spelling reception area, the Gary Marshall pool...

The Museum doesn't claim to have everything that ever appeared on television (they're still looking for tapes of Superbowl I, for instance, and the original pilot for "All In The Family"), but the museum's collection allows you to select from among 45,000 television programs, 20,000 radio programs, and 10,000 commercials, which run the gamut from comedy to drama, from news to game shows, from children's programs to political conventions; the shows include concerts, sporting events, science fiction, even TV movies and miniseries.

The museum building is spectacular; a 23,000, two-level work of art in its own right, with crisp modern lines, glistening with white marble and glass, and featuring an open two-level lobby.

Inside the Museum you'll find:

  • the Stanley E. Hubbard Library: the heart of the Museum, where user-friendly Macintosh computers will help you make your selection of what television program you want to see; (You must make a reservation to use the Library at the lobby front desk when you arrive). Then just reserve your selection and go to...

  • the Console Center: where you go to watch your selections. At the consoles, which feature TV monitors and headphones, you have control over playback functions. You'll be allowed immediate access to about half of the museum's vast collection. (The other half, in the archives, takes about a week to retrieve.);
  • The Ahmanson Radio Listening Room: where you can use headphones to listen to special Museum radio series and broadcasts from five pre-programmed channels;

  • the John H. Mitchell Theatre: a 150-seat, state-of-the-art screening room (which will be used for special daily screenings and seminars - pick up a schedule at the Info desk when you first arrive);

  • the Ralph Guild Radio Studio: a small working radio station where the Museum can broadcast live and taped radio programs; the public is invited to watch most broadcasts, for a behind-the-scenes look at the way a radio stations works;
  • several galleries on both levels for rotating exhibits, the largest being the Bell Family Gallery;

  • an education room and theatre for students, and

  • a gift shop where visitors can choose from hundreds of books, videos and radio cassettes, posters, t-shirts, caps, and other memorabilia from current and classic TV programs.

The museum also offers general temporary exhibits, such as "Star Trek: The Tradition Continues" (with life-size mannequins modeling the original uniforms and props from the "Trek" shows) and a collection of Al Hirschfeld sketches of Hollywood celebrities.

Plus, it has regular seminars about TV genres or individual programs, featuring television and radio clips from the Museum's collection, and often attended by the stars and producers of the original shows (with a chance for the audience to ask questions).

For instance, in September of 1998, the museum hosted "A Conversation With Carol Burnett" where the comedian took questions from the audience following a showing of highlights from her career. In October, another seminar brought together the creators of "The Simpsons" , "King of the Hill" and "South Park"; while November saw "A Conversation With Dick Van Dyke."

(Contact the museum for details about future events, or call their hotline for recorded information about their schedule, at (310) 746-1010.)

In 2007, the Museum of Television and Radio changed their name to "The Paley Center for Media".

(The Museum sponsors the annual Television Festival. a great chance to see the stars of your favorite TV shows in person. Click here for more info.)

Admission Price:

Free admission, but the suggested contribution is:

    $10.00 for adults
    $8.00 for students and senior citizens
    $5.00 for children under 13.


    Wednesday through Sunday: 12 noon to 5 PM.
    Closed Monday and Tuesday (and major holidays).


    Two hours of free parking in the Museums parking lot. After two hours, the charge for the lot is $1 per additional half hour.

 Getting there: the museum is located in a distinctive white building on the west side of Beverly Drive, at Santa Monica Blvd. / From Rodeo Drive, go north to Little Santa Monica Blvd., and turn right (northeast). Go one block to Beverly Drive and turn right. The Museum will be on your right side, at the southwest corner of Beverly and Little Santa Monica.

[For more information on this subject, you can access the Museum's official website at:]

Click here to browse books about the history of television

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Copyright  2015-Gary Wayne
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