Live

Watch CBSN Live

Can't Hold A Candle To Them

One of London's most popular tourist attractions has come to New York. The Saturday Early Show's Ira Joe Fisher previews the new Madame Tussaud's wax museum.


If you want to rub shoulders with celebrities without the slightest chance they'll snub you, know that America's biggest movers and shakers are in Times Square without a bodyguard in sight. You can sing with James Brown, dance with Tina Turner, and talk Barbara Streisand's ear off.

The celebrities may not respond, but they won't walk away, because they're made of wax. The new Madame Tussaud's wax museum in New York has 175 wax portraits of everyone, from drag queens to royalty.

The real Madame Tussaud lived during the French Revolution. She was spared the guillotine because she was so good at sculpting the heads of aristocrats who were less fortunate.

Creating famous figures in wax requires attention to detail. Artist Lisa Partridge recently helped measure CBS News Anchor Dan Rather for his wax portrait. "First we have a sitting with them where we take around 300 measurements and photographs," Partridge explains.

And the measurements can be a dose of reality for the subject. "I should have been running more this last week; I knew it," says Rather.

"We take a sample of the (subject's) hair; and we match that up perfectly," Patridge says. "We also take a pallet so we can match the skin tone, skin color, lip color."

The measurements are then sent to England, where it takes six months to create a wax portrait. First, a model is sculpted in clay. Artists then make a mold of the clay sculpture and fill it with wax. And like magic, they create a wax twin.

Madame Tussaud's says many celebrities think their wax dummies are a knockout.

But you can't please everyone. Museum director Janine Scarpello says George Steinbrenner's family thought his hair shouldn't cover his forehead. "We pulled it back, teased it, hair sprayed and gelled it up and made it right," says Scarpello.

Visitors don't waffle when they think a dummy is inaccurate. Says one, looking at a figure, "This is not Oprah. I mean her clothes aren't fitting right. She looks frumpy and older than she is, and her head is bigger than her body."

In addition to talking about the stars right to their face, visitors can tweak Donald Trump's tie, try on Gandhi's glasses and kiss Brad Pitt.

This hands-on approach means every two weeks each dummy gets a touchup and a day of beauty that includes a shampoo and blow dry. Ivana Trump sent her own hair stylist to make sure her wax double looked its best.

It isn't easy being a stylist to the wax stars. "We can't use the hair dryer on some settings; it has to be on a low setting, the cool,"says Partridge. "We can't use heated rollers because it would melt."

The useum has opened its doors to the public for a preview - part of the waxy buildup toward the official grand opening on Nov. 15.

View CBS News In