Rimpau resident moves his haunted, horror treasures for public exhibit

| September 30, 2020 | 1 Comment

WITH FRIENDS. Rich Correll with Batman and Robin.

Halloween has been (mostly) cancelled, and many theaters have gone dark for the most part, but Rich Correll’s “Icons of Darkness,” at The Montalbán Theatre, 1615 Vine St., should provide plenty of entertainment for lovers of both Hollywood film history and Halloween through the end of the year.

“Icons of Darkness” is an interactive display that represents about 60 percent of a collection of horror, science fiction and fantasy masks, costumes, models and other memorabilia that Correll, Hancock Park, has been collecting for more than 60 years.

Correll is an actor, director, writer and producer. He worked on “Happy Days” and “Hannah Montana,” as well as other TV comedies. He also has been a fan of Hollywood horror movies (think “Dracula” and “Frankenstein”) ever since he was a kid. A native-born Angeleno, son of Charles Correll (who created and voiced the role of Andy Brown on the radio program “Amos ‘n’ Andy”), Rich Correll was working on the set of “Leave it to Beaver” as recurring character Richard Rickover. As Correll tells it, one day, he asked the makeup person to take him to the makeup lab. Correll says he wanted to see where the magic of putting together the horror masks happened. Shocked at what was being thrown out, he asked if he could reclaim what he had found in the trash. It was a half-mask of Mr. Hyde from “Abbot and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1953). It was his first mask, but it wouldn’t be his last, in what has been called the largest private collection of film props, artifacts and memorabilia in the world.

DIRECTOR’S HOME on Rimpau Boulevard decorated for Halloween in 2017.

Halloween home

Over the years, Correll’s collection has grown, and when he moved to Rimpau Boulevard in 1993, he saw his then-new home as the perfect place to stage a Halloween attraction for the neighborhood, using pieces from both his film memorabilia and his Halloween collection. For years, every Halloween, approximately 8,000 visitors came by to see skeletons, ghosts, monsters and villains as they walked through the grounds or looked through the windows.

Then the pandemic happened.

CORRELL CONSULTS with models of dinosaur heads from his exhibit. All photos from the personal collection of Rich Correll

Icons of Darkness

Correll, working with his partner David Fachman and The Montalbán’s board chair, Gilbert Smith, decided to take advantage of the theater’s closure to set up the interactive display.

About 500 seats were removed from the theater and new flooring was laid to make room for the display, as well as to make sure that there was enough room for the displays and that public health guidelines are met for keeping a six-foot distance between visitors.

Doors to “Icons of Darkness” open at noon five days a week, and the exhibit is suitable for guests ages eight years old and up. Face coverings must be worn. Timed tickets begin at $20 each. Visit dice.fm/bundle/icons-of-darkness to purchase tickets.

Future for the collection

Correll no longer digs through trash bins on the back lot as he did in his youth to find new pieces to add to his collection. These days, he obtains most of them through auction. He also advises other collectors, giving them estimations on pieces they are bidding on. His collection, insured at $13.5 million, but which he estimates is worth about $17 million, now spends most of the year in a storage facility in Columbus, Ohio. And each time the masks, set pieces, and other items are moved across country, there is the possibility of them getting damaged.

Recently, Correll and Fachman have begun working on using space at the Chinese Theatre to set up the collection permanently. Correll sees it as becoming a sort of Hollywood hall of fame for makeup artists and special effects models — a place for fans of horror, science fiction and fantasy films to “be kids again,” he said.

In the meantime, fans can get a taste of the complete collection at “Icons of Darkness” through the end of the year.

Visit themontalban.com/icons-of-darkness.

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  1. Jim Geoghan says:

    Rich Correll’s passion and knowledge on his collection is amazing. He loves Halloween and wants everyone else to enjoy it, too. Great guy. Bless him!

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