Pop Quiz: Secrets of the New York Celebs at Madame Tussauds

In which we wax trivial

We’ve gone eye to eye with presidents, pop stars, and popes. We’ve danced with rockers, we’ve mugged with supermodels. In short, we’ve spent a lot of time in wax museums. Wait, don’t dial 911: we go to Madame Tussauds to update our scavenger hunts there, in the New York City and Washington, D.C., branches. (And before you get upset about Tussauds: they removed the apostrophe long before our first scavenger hunt there in 2006.)

We’ve learned a lot of intriguing trivia about the stars in those galleries, not just from the information cards accompanying the wax figures but also from our own roving and restless research. Allow us to share the wealth: from the following descriptions, see if you can identify the six celebs, all associated with New York City, whose wax-alikes stand or have stood in Madame Tussauds. You can guess “blind,” or you can refer to the list of candidates that follows the descriptions.

1. “The sun’s not yellow, it’s chicken!”

In his book Chronicles he writes about his early years in New York. When he lived on MacDougal St. in Greenwich Village, he once chased down and assaulted a man who regularly went through his trash—the snoop called himself “a garbologist.” While living at another Village address he wrote “Positively West 4th St.” He penned the lyric, “The sun’s not yellow, it’s chicken.” Late in life he became a born-again Christian, and once said in an interview, “Being noticed can be a burden. Jesus got himself crucified because he got himself noticed. So I disappear a lot.” Who is this bard?

2. “Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”

Quips like that, and her acclaim as an acerbic writer for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, earned this person a seat at the Algonquin Roundtable. She coined the phrase  “Men seldom make passes / At girls who wear glasses.” She also once deadpanned, “If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.” Her screenplays include A Star Is Born and The Cowboy and the Lady. Who is she?

3. The statue of him at his grave was paid for by P.T. Barnum.

He was nicknamed General. In Madame Tussauds he is dressed in a manner similar to Napoleon (they sometimes stand beside one another). He could sing and dance, and twice performed for the Queen of England. His wedding at Grace Church (at Broadway and 10th St.) was front-page news, and during the ceremony he and his bride stood atop a grand piano. The newlyweds were received in the White House by the president. More than 10,000 people attended his funeral. Who is this star?

4. “I always thought of losing my virginity as a career move.”

That remark was made long after she’d moved from Michigan to New York. At first she lived in squalor, while working at a Dunkin’ Donuts and as a hat-check girl at the club Danceteria. Yet she studied with Martha Graham and danced with Alvin Ailey’s company. She played drums and guitar in a group called the Breakfast Club. When she auditioned for a role in a movie that centered on the East Village scene, she was told to go take four weeks of acting lessons and come back. After moving away from the city, she once said, “I miss New York. I still love how people talk to you on the street—just assault you and tell you what they think of your jacket.” Who’s that girl?

5. “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work…”

He was born in Brooklyn as Allen Konigsberg. Nicknamed Red as a child, he dazzled kids with his magic and card tricks. He got his showbiz start on the TV series Your Show of Shows and later appeared on Candid Camera. He wrote a play called Don’t Drink the Water; the movie version starred Jackie Gleason. A documentary was made about his tour of Europe playing the clarinet. In 1997 he made his only sitcom appearance, a cameo on Just Shoot Me! He once said, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.” The #metoo movement has put him back in the news in the worst possible way. Who is he?

6. “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”

At the age of five, his parents took him to his brother’s grave and told him he was the reincarnation of that sibling. He is best known for melting watches. His first one-man show was in New York in 1933. He donated a sketch of the Crucifixion to New York’s Riker’s Island jail, where it hung until it was stolen in 2003 by four prison guards (it’s sill missing). He advised, “Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.” Who is this hallucinogen, as he identified himself in the quote above?

The Candidates

(a) Dorothy Parker (b) Woody Allen (c) Madonna (d) Tom Thumb (e) Salvador Dali (f) Bob Dylan


1. (f) Bob Dylan; 2. (a) Dorothy Parker; 3. (d) Tom Thumb; 4. (c) Madonna; 5. (b) Woody Allen; 6. (e) Salvador Dali