By: Dale King Contributing Writer
It wasn’t so long ago that a funny lady with red hair dominated America’s black-and-white TV screens in the early 1950s. A veteran comedian drew guffaws by dressing up as a woman while men in Texaco gas station uniforms sang, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.”
Cher was still years from seeing a plastic surgeon, Lily Tomlin snorted, “One ringy-dingy…’ into a telephone headset on the set of one of TV’s funniest programs and Olivia Newton-John, wearing skin-tight black jeans, teased John Travolta with the lyric, “You’re the one that I want.”
If any of these scenarios tingle a memory node in your brain, you can get the full treatment at the Wick Costume Museum at the Wick Theatre at 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
Filled with memorabilia from the collection of theatre and museum owner Marilynn Wick, and selected with the finest of care by her daughter, Kimberly, museum curator, the sixth specialized exhibit to regale crowds at the venue opened late last year and runs through May.
“Those were the Days” plays homage to the Broadway shows, signature fashions and pop culture moments of the 1950’s and 1960’s, said Kimberly. “The interactive tour features a star-studded collection of costumes worn by Barbra Streisand, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, Cher, Lily Tomlin and more. The exhibit also features costumes from Broadway shows including Grease, Bye Bye Birdie, West Side Story and other hits.”
“The 50’s and 60’s were iconic decades in our culture,” Kimberly pointed out. “The fashions, the music, the television shows—everything about that time-period left an indelible impression on future generations. This exhibit is a time capsule that captures the zeitgeist of the era.”
Guided tours at the Wick Costume Museum open a portal to the past and immerse patrons in the pop culture explosion of the era, she noted. “Older generations will have an array of memories triggered by the tour while younger people will be intrigued by the advent of a cultural period that still influences them today.”
The “Those were the Days” exhibit includes a tribute to the dawn of television in 1951, with a special salute to “I Love Lucy.”
A recent statistic underscores the staying power of her brand of comedy. In December 2018, just before Christmas, CBS reran two half-hour holiday episodes of “I Love Lucy” back to back. Ratings said the broadcast featuring Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel drew an audience of 5.9 million – the largest of any CBS program shown that evening.
The best of Broadway and Hollywood are represented with authentic Broadway costumes from Grease, Bye Bye Birdie, West Side Story, Coco and Tommy.
Pop culture superstars and icons are celebrated with rarely seen items worn by stars, including Barbra Streisand, Carol Channing, Ann Miller, Nannette Fabray, Dorothy Lamour and Doris Duke.
Folks who remember the glamour of the John F. Kennedy presidency can see a genuine leopard skin coat created by New York City furrier Harry Elias for Karen Olsen. Jackie Kennedy met Karen at a charity event and admired the coat so much, she had a duplicate made for herself by the same furrier.
And a tribute to the legends of comedy includes items worn by Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason and Milton Berle. Paraphernalia on loan from cast members Lily Tomlin and Jo Anne Worley of Rowan & Martin’s “Laugh-in” are set up in front of a colorful partition resembling the show’s famous “Joke Wall.”
Costumes worn by Carol Burnett on her TV show – including the outfit donned by co-star Vicki Lawrence in her character of “Mama,” are in the museum.
Guided tours of the exhibition are conducted Monday through Sunday, hourly from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Patrons must reserve in advance. After the tour, visitors can stop in for a three-course luncheon in the Wick Tavern.
Tour package options are: Tour and luncheon, $53 per person; tour, luncheon and cabaret performance, $63 a person and tour, luncheon, cabaret show and theatre performance (if one is scheduled), $102. Call 561-995-2333 for reservations.