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Q&A with Joe Maddalena of Syfy’s Hollywood Treasure

Syfy’s series Hollywood Treasure, starring collectibles expert Joe Maddalena, has returned for its second season. Each episode takes viewers into the fascinating world of showbiz and pop culture memorabilia, with the season opener traveling to “Middle-earth” and featuring actor Sean Astin’s Lord of the Rings collection. Maddalena recently held a conference call to discuss the new season.

The upcoming season’s first two episodes are showcasing the Whitney Houston costume from The Bodyguard, the house in American Horror Story, items from the television series Lost, the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, the original camera George Lucas used to film Star Wars, and Maddalena’s personal Holy Grail … the lost pair of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. It does not get any more amazing than that.

Each episode of the documentary-reality series follows Maddalena, owner of Profiles in History and the world’s largest auctioneer of original movie, television, science fiction, fantasy and pop culture collectibles. Viewers will watch as Maddalena and his crew travel the globe searching for the most compelling, rare, and sought-after Hollywood memorabilia. During each show, Maddalena also presides over auctions where the collectibles are sold to fans and collectors from all around the world.

For collector’s, Maddalena’s finds are some of the greatest in the world and the main find has been the elusive ruby slippers. He finds it “surreal now looking back that two pairs have gone through my hands.” Maddalena’s collectibles are rarities, hence the show being called Hollywood Treasure.

Joe finds all of the great items. One of the most valuable items that was consigned to him was Debbie Reynolds’ dress from The Seven Year Itch. The dress went for five and half million dollars.

Joe’s neighbor, actor Sean Astin, is a part of the series; he takes on a journey to Middle-earth. Joe is selling a large collection that belonged to the Dryer family, and the collection includes “this amazing map of the Middle-earth … I thought Sean would enjoy seeing the map; it was Tolkein’s copy.”

The series is jam-packed with elusive, creative items. One of the great collections Maddalena came across, thanks to the Dryer family, was the late actor Christopher Reeve’s Superman costume used in Superman I and II. They collected all things Superman and also found Marlon Brando’s Jar-El’s complete costume from the beginning of the movie and George Reeves’ Superman cape. “It’s just kind of a mind-boggling collection.”

Whether it is classic, vintage, or new Hollywood, Joe manages to find it, This season we find him working in the American Horror Story house. For viewers and Horror travelers, the home is a seventeen thousand square foot mansion located in Los Angeles.

Joe explains, “I thought it would be cool to get some of the props from the show, and lo and behold we met this man, and we ended up at the American Horror Story house. It was really eerie, because you’re in the house, and then the basement, and you start to think people are actually hanging. We’re going after these properties now because they have so much value besides just being a home.”

In the world of collectibles, Joe believes the most sought after Marilyn Monroe item would be “the smoking gun that linked her to the Kennedy’s, perhaps if a diary emerged.”

Some rare items Joe has come across that he would not auction off would include the late Anna Nicole Smith’s personal diaries. He originally acquired these when a man called him up immediately after her death to sell them.

Joe purchased the diaries and read them, then thought it over for a few minutes and gave them back to the mystery man. They are worth a fortune. Someone else did sell them for four hundred thousand, but Maddalena felt “it was incredibly exploitative and I just couldn’t handle it.”

One item Maddalena could never part with would be Buck Rogers’ sidekick Tweaky. Joe’s son had a little robot. Felix Hiller, who wore the costume on the show, met Joe and his son. Joe’s son thought it was coolest thing in the world, so he could never part with it, as it is his family’s own Holy Grail. Felix Hiller would later go on to sell his costume to Joe’s son. He said, “he’ll take it to his grave.”

Joe also finds a lot of horror items considering the show airs on the Syfy channel. Joe finds that some of the most popular items stay consistent including items starting in the 1920’s. He points to the 1930 and 1931’s Frankenstein and Dracula. “I think we’re infatuated with vampires, look how popular they are now. I think the supernatural, ghosts, vampires, and ghouls fascinate me.”

He believes it is the macabre and part of human nature to have a fascination with the dark side. People want to be vampires; they want to find that dark place so Horror will always be an important genre. Joe recently came across an amazing piece of Horror history, Bela Lugosi’s cape from Dracula.

The legend goes that Bela was buried with the cape on. Joe met with Bela Lugosi Jr. and it was sort of true, but not one hundred percent. He was going to be buried with the cape, but Bela Lugosi’s wife wouldn’t allow it. They buried him in a different cape, but she kept the cape from 1931.

It is more than a piece of fabric; it is a historic item. Joe believes it was the “greatest groundbreaking deal of universal horror. I mean it’s amazing to see that it exists.”

Joe covers everything, every genre and takes on all memorabilia and viewers can expect segments on everything and everyone from The Hunger Games to singer Whitney Houston.

Joe has an incredibly diverse group including vampires. One in particular, Gary Oldman, played Dracula in Bram Stokers Dracula. Viewers will get to see some of the elusive make-up pieces and Vi Neal of Syfy’s Face Off will make an appearance.

What keeps Joe up at night? Johnny Depp’s pirate hat from Pirates of the Caribbean “Can you imagine having that?” He is like a kid with a really awesome comic book collection, but the difference is, he is so passionate about them items and knows so much about all of the history these items hold. The ultimate find for Joe would be Maria, the robot from Metropolis. Maria is a Hollywood myth and legend but somewhere out there Joe may find her.

Maddalena is a man of dignity and does not disrespect the deceased or the living, so that in itself makes Joe very valuable. “I live, sleep, eat, and my heart goes pitter patter when a box comes in. Every day is like Christmas.” His genuine enthusiasm makes the show. He has extensive knowledge thanks to his parents and his own business, Profiles in History.

This is what Joe lives for each day, he learns the history of each item “That is what makes me get up in the morning.”

Make sure to watch Hollywood Treasure,Tuesdays at 10/9c on the Syfy channel to join Joe on his journey.

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