- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry will be immortalized in wax when the latest Madame Tussauds wax museum opens this year in the District.

Mr. Barry, a Democrat now representing Ward 8 on the D.C. Council, was selected as the last of the 50 figures to be displayed at the museum. He beat out nine other finalists chosen by museum officials, including Nancy Reagan, Oprah Winfrey and Cal Ripken.

The museum’s general manager, Janine DiGioacchino, said staffers visited such places as Union Station and the Mall to ask people whom they would like to see displayed.

“We wanted [to] make sure we had a flavor for the city,” Miss DiGioacchino said. “The response was an overwhelming landslide for council member Marion Barry.”

Madame Tussauds is set to open downtown in October in the former Woodward & Lothrop department store, a D.C. landmark at 10th and F streets Northwest.

Mr. Barry’s wax figure will be displayed along with the likes of George Washington, President Bush, Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali.

“It is truly extraordinary to have such an honor bestowed upon myself and the people of Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Barry said. “I am tremendously excited and deeply humbled to be placed in such a select group of great Americans.”

Mr. Barry, 71, was born in Mississippi and grew up in Memphis, Tenn. He began his D.C. political career as a civil rights activist before serving on the school board, then as a member of the District’s first elected city council in 1974.

In 1977, Mr. Barry survived a near-fatal shooting by armed militant Muslims in the District’s City Hall.

The next year, he began his first of four terms as mayor — a tenure that touched three decades and helped earn him the nickname “mayor for life.”

During Mr. Barry’s third term in 1990, he was videotaped in a hotel room smoking crack cocaine with his one-time girlfriend in an FBI sting. He served a six-month prison sentence but in 1992 regained a spot on the council.

In 1994, Mr. Barry was again elected mayor for another four-year term, during which the District came under the purview of the federally mandated financial control board.

He was succeeded by Anthony A. Williams, and defeated incumbent Sandy Allen for the Ward 8 council seat in 2004.

Last month, Mr. Barry was acquitted in D.C. Superior Court on charges of drunken driving, and also avoided prison time when a U.S. magistrate judge denied a bid to revoke his probation after he failed to file tax returns on time for the seventh straight year.

Mr. Barry has been active during his current council term, introducing bills that include efforts to improve the District’s affordable housing shortage and reducing gun violence in the city.

City residents, especially those across the Anacostia River and in other under-served neighborhoods, consider him a champion of the downtrodden and continue to support him politically and personally, especially through his numerous health problems. Many residents during voting season recall how their first employment came through Mr. Barry’s summer-jobs program.

“This honor really speaks to the tremendous amount of work that went into rebuilding the city of Washington and supporting the wonderful people of the District of Columbia,” Mr. Barry said.

The Tussauds Group operates six wax museums around the world, including the original in London. In the United States, there is one in New York and one in Las Vegas.

The D.C. museum will open Oct. 1. A grand opening and VIP reception is scheduled for Oct. 8.



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