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Toned-Down Ripley's Latest in Hollywood Blvd. Blandification

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The latest effort to keep Hollywood Boulevard's 14 million annual visitors occupied after they're done walking on people's names and handprints comes from the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, which has just undergone a major macabre-ectomy. It's part of the continued sanitization of dirty old Hollywood as more and more money pours in, from the Hollywood & Highland mall more than a decade ago to the Chinese Theatre upgrade that just started. At Ripley's, old horrors have been packed up and replaced with more family-friendly fare like the world's smallest driveable car, says the LA Times. Since the new exhibits were unveiled, attendance is up 40 percent, and presumably fewer parents are demanding refunds after exposing their children to all manner of horrors. Museum Manager Andrea Silverman supports the change, thought it wasn't all sunshine and roses. "I was literally crying when I was packing it away," she said of the museum's skeleton of a two-headed baby.

Joining the skeleton in a storage facility in Florida are:
-- "a gruesome photo gallery of men and women impaled by arrows, augers and pipes"
-- medieval chastity belts
-- "tongs used to torture victims of the Spanish Inquisition."

It's not all Marilyn Monroe portraits painted with candy (part of a big new Marilyn collection at the museum), though; some favorites, like a mounted one-eyed goat, remain. And if they remain popular (and uncontroversial), they may be joined by a new artifact just offered to the museum: the remains of an eight-legged puppy. "I can't wait to get it. That's my baby," Silverman said.
· Ripley's Believe It or Not museum gets family-friendly makeover [LAT]