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  • Writer's pictureLeft For Dread

The Morbid MAdame

Welcome Back Dreadfuls!

Today I'm diving into the morbidly talented Marie Tussaud (nee Grosholtz). Far before she became the leading name in wax museums across the world, Marie Grosholtz was born in 1761 in Strasbourg, France. He mother worked for Dr. Philippe Curtius, physician and wax modeller. Very soon into her young life, Marie became apprentice to Curtius, creating her first wax sculpture in 1777 of Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. During the French Revolution, Marie and her mother were imprisoned, waiting to be executed for being traitors. They were forced to prove their allegiance to the revolution by creating death masks and wax sculptures of executed nobles and royalty. She casted a mold of the head of Louis XVI after his execution, as well as Marie Antoinette and Maximilien Robespierre.

When Dr. Curtius died, his entire collection was passed onto Marie to take up the mantle. In 1975, Marie married Francois Tussaud and took the infamous surname. Due to the Napoleonic Wars, Marie couldn't return to France. She travelled through France, and Ireland displaying her wax collection at every stop. In 1831 Marie Tussaud took up some leases on Baker Street where she eventually opened her waxwork museum in 1835. This also became her permanent home in 1836.

Among the figures in the collection, she had Lord Nelson, Sir Walter Scott, Duke of Wellington, and in 1837 Marie recreated Queen Victoria's coronation. Marie Tussaud eventually included a Chamber of Horrors into her museum which included death masks of Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, an Egyptian mummy, execution scenes of French criminals, and a model of the guillotine. Patrons were charged a higher price of a admission to enter the separate room of horrors.

Much like our Professor Jarrod, Madam Tussaud's museum suffered a fire in 1925 and a direct hit by a German World War II bomb. Over 300 molds (including some of Marie Tussaud's originals) were destroyed. Some survived, and remain intact today. Adolf Hitler was immortalized in wax in 1933 but the figure was decapitated in 2008 by a 41 year old German man. The statue was repaired and replaced and is now carefully guarded. In 1842, Madam Tussaud made a self portrait of herself which is still currently on display in the entrance to the museum. Madam Tussaud died peacefully in her sleep in April of 1850. Madame Tussauds now houses historical, and royal figures, film stars, sports players, and famous murderers.

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