Photo by Alix Lambert
MILES KRUEGER’S WALLS ARE ADORNED with a picture of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, a painting of Krueger by the late, great Alice Neel, a caricature of him by famed theater artist Al Hirschfeld, a painting of Ethel Merman singing “Edie Was a Lady,” a picture of Fanny Brice, a program for the very first Ziegfeld Follies, a photograph of Krueger with Agnes DeMille, a signed Maurice Sendak doll; in another room are Playbills dating back to the 1880s, a Henry Higgins hat from My Fair Lady, an original costume from Brigadoon, an Unsinkable Molly Brown doll . . . it goes on and on.
His treasures, transformed by the very delightful Kreuger into the Institute of the American Musical, is one of the great gems of Los Angeles. Housed entirely in Krueger’s own unassuming home on Detroit Street, the nonprofit is the largest collection of musical-theater and film archives and artifacts. The 70-year-old Krueger, who lives with his beloved dog, Molly, is a New York transplant who was fascinated by the Museum of Modern Art’s burgeoning film archives as a kid. His knowledge of theater and film history is encyclopedic. Not an inch of wall space can be seen in between signed paintings, photographs, cartoons, etc. Other memorabilia covers tables, chairs, bookshelves and fills filing cabinets. Behind every door is something precious and irreplaceable. I was lucky enough to spend four hours getting a tour with commentary from Miles — visits are rare these days — but if you want to see him yourself, he appears in the documentary Broadway: The Golden Age — By the Legends Who Were There, playing at the Sunset Laemmle. Krueger is most certainly one of the legends who was there.