Jimmy Stewart museum hits hard times

Jimmy Stewart museum

It used to be a wonderful life at the Jimmy Stewart Museum.

Every year before Christmastime, bus loads of senior citizens would come to the actor's hometown to see costumes and scripts from his 81 movies, his childhood bed and the red leather booth excavated from the acclaimed, now-shuttered Chasen's Restaurant in Hollywood. The Stewart family dined there on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings.

Often, guests would stop in the museum's 50-seat theater for a special holiday viewing of Mr. Stewart's 1946 classic "It's a Wonderful Life," which tells the story of George Bailey, whose failing savings and loan was saved by the community, while he himself, distraught and about to leap from a bridge, was saved by his guardian angel, Clarence, on Christmas Eve.

Attendance is down at the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa. State funding is drying up, grants are dwindling, and executive director Tim Harley doesn't know how long the modest venue, in the actor's hometown, can hang on.

"We could use a Clarence," says Timothy Harley, executive director of the museum. There hasn't been a single charter tour bus this month and none have been scheduled for the spring. In December, typically one of its busiest months, the museum had three smaller bookings. One was a chapter of the Red Hat Society, a network of older women known for their crimson headgear. Another was a student group.

Attendance has slid to about 5,000 this year, down from a peak of roughly 11,000 in the late 1990s, when the museum opened.

READ ARTICLE AT WSJ


Actors, Hollywood


Powered by WP Robot