Winter Olympics 2002 Winter Olympics 2002


Gable and Houdini boost museum

Posted: Wednesday February 06, 2002 9:38 AM

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) -- It's not on any city map and you won't find it mentioned in the tourist listings for Winter Olympics visitors.

But in downtown Salt Lake City there's a dusty and cramped private museum full of historic treasures that include Clark Gable's famous coat as worn in "Gone With The Wind," letters from outlaw Butch Cassidy and a Harry Houdini garment.

"I have so many unique things that nobody has in any museum in the state of Utah," said Dr Steve Lacy of the vast collection on display in his modest home.

The colourful medley Lacy has acquired over the years numbers into the hundreds of thousands and could be worth millions of dollars.

Showcased by invitation only, it's difficult to identify any one theme in the hodgepodge of collectibles.

On one wall you can find original wanted posters for Butch Cassidy and nearby there are puppets and toys from the 1940s.

Down a hallway lurks an antique record player and in the kitchen cereal boxes and canned food from half-a-century ago.

"I have Clark Gable's coat from Gone With The Wind," a soft-spoken Lacy says.

"I also have Harry Houdini's coat with 17 secret pockets, and a little bit of everything."

Much of the material acquired by Lacy was donated by friends and relatives.

He has an extensive collection on all of Utah's governors and was a longtime friend of the daughter of Matt Warner, one of the gang members who robbed banks with Butch Cassidy.

Lacy, 50, also possesses family pictures and newspapers with a great deal of history and a tie-in to the Olympics.

"My grandfather Earl Lacy Sr. was the first 'Masked Marvel' professional wrestler in the 1930s," Lacy said. "And my father and my uncle both qualified for the 1948 Olympics."

Thousands of antique beer cans, comic books, bottles, photographs and campaign buttons demonstrate Lacy's passion for collecting that started when he was young boy.

The former high school drama teacher now works full-time with handicapped children but still dreams of opening his museum to the public one day.

"I have so much stuff I have no room to display it all, Lacy said. "I display just enough to try to entice someone to help me get a building for a museum."

He added: "This is my contribution to the future. History is important."

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