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Thesp requires Heimlich at museum bow

GOOD MORNING: There was a bit of unskedded live drama at the WB Museum opening festivities when veteran actress Maris Wrixon suddenly took ill and director Les Martinson (“PT 109”; WB, 1963) applied the Heimlich maneuver to revive her. Wrixon is the wife (56 years) of Rudi Fehr, who for 40 years was a WB editor, producer and post-production head. David Wolper and I were standing nearby as paramedics arrived to confirm Wrixon was OK — following an electro-cardiogram. Wolper noted he, too, had performed the Heimlich maneuver on two people — but not that night. For the museum, Wolper, with Bob Guenette, created the film clips seen on monitors throughout the exhibit. Among the museum opening-night guests on hand was Jane Withers, who made her bow there in 1933 in “Madame Dubarry.” Withers has amassed a memorabilia collection of her own — it’s in storage awaiting its own museum. Among items she owns: a complete set from “My Fair Lady.” It’s the Cecil Beaton creation for the scene in Gladys Cooper’s house. Withers said she bought it, among many other items, from the Screen Smart Set, whose funds go to the Motion Picture & Television Fund. “So they (the items) were recycled back into the industry,” smiled Jane, who continues to work for the Smart Set to this day. Withers, who celebrated her 70 th birthday April 12, suffered a stroke the previous week, but now is completely recovered — and completed voicing the gargoyle LaVerne in Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” following the death of Mary Wickes. She’s the only lady gargoyle … Debbie Reynolds, who has her museum in Las Vegas, also had a warehouse full of movie memorabilia from all studios. She told me, “Jane (Withers) and I tried to get together with our things for a museum”– but it was too expensive for the two of ’em. It would be a gigantic collection!” Debbie recently toured the WB lot with the studio’s museum curator and archivist, Leith Adams, who said, “She (Debbie) was an inspiration for everyone here.” She told him of her first job on the lot in “The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady,” when Jack Warner wanted to change her name, Mary Frances Reynolds, to Debbie Morgan (as in Dennis Morgan). She balked at “Morgan.” Reynolds says she’s been turning down movie offers — awaiting the release of “Mother,” in which she stars for Albert Brooks. “All of a sudden I’m getting parts I hadn’t gotten in 10 years,” Reynolds said.

RONALD REAGAN’S COSTUMES from his favorite film, “King’s Row,” as well as those from ‘Stallion Road” and “John Loves Mary” have been loaned by the WB museum to the Reagan Library, said Adams … Bob Daly and Terry Semel greeted guests at the WB Museum opening from the stairway leading to the museum’s second floor. Daly said the museum’s current exhibit represents the era of Jack Warner and his brothers. Upcoming exhibits will be from the next 25 years. Semel revealed he was a trainee in 1966 when “Bonnie & Clyde” was being readied by WB. He intro’d Warren Beatty, who made his bow as a producer with the film, having also debuted his movie acting career at WB in “Splendor in the Grass” 35 years ago. Beatty read a memo from Warner to the studio’s then-second in command, Walter McEwen, as “Bonnie & Clyde” was readying to film: “I just read 11 pages of ‘Bonnie & Clyde,’ in which a woman is seen nude from the waist up. She must be clothed,” wrote Warner. Another note: “Don’t use ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ ever again!” And, at the film’s end, J.L. wrote, “I can’t understand where the entertainment value is in this thing. I’m sorry I said yes before reading the script. We will lose back everything we make on ‘Kaleidoscope’ (another Beatty starrer)!”

ELIZABETH TAYLOR WAS AMONG the alumnae (“Giant,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”) at the museum bow. Others included Angie Dickinson, Janis Paige, Andrea King, Irene Manning, Gene Nelson, Virginia Mayo, Marcia Mae Jones, Troy Donahue, Diane McBain, Betty Comden, Norman Lloyd, Karen Sharpe, Beverly Roberts, Robert Douglas, Michael & Patrick Wayne and Andre De Toth, plus Joel Silver and the great Chuck Jones. Also paying tribute to the memories and WB were the Acad’s Arthur Hiller and Bruce Davis, the AFI’s Jean Firstenberg and UA’s John Calley.

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