Hollywood Meets Hillbilly at this Awesomely Tacky Kentucky Roadside Museum
Former actor Keith Holt had to fight the locals to keep his museum. (All photos: Dave Seminara)By Dave Seminara
There is one place in the world where the Spice Girls jam with Spinal Tap, and Elvis and Barbie lie in a manger, along with Santa Claus.
Welcome to Keith Holt’s strangely compelling Apple Valley Hillbilly Gardens and Toyland roadside tourist attraction outside Paducah, Kentucky.
The place is an homage to hillbilly pop culture where visitors can see bizarre exhibits like “Things Angelina Jolie Touched,” and a “Hillbilly Day Care Center,” complete with barbed wire.
Holt, 52 and a Kentucky native, is as much a part of the attraction as his eclectic collection. He told us he spent more than 20 years chasing his dream of becoming an actor in Hollywood. If you ask him, or even if you don’t, he’ll tell you that his career highlight was a speaking part on “General Hospital” during its heyday.
The hillbilly museum includes thousands of vintage toys collected around Los Angeles.
“I was an ugly waiter who served a sandwich,” he told me. “My line was, ‘Here’s your sandwich, sir.’”
When his mother died in 2006, it seemed like the right time to give up his Hollywood dream and return to the family home he inherited outside Paducah to open a backyard museum exhibiting the thousands of vintage toys he’d been collecting and storing in lockers around Los Angeles.
“No one expected me to go back to Kentucky,” he said, standing inside a small outbuilding next to his home that was once his grandfather Oral Wallace’s 4-seat restaurant, ciderhouse, general store, and barbershop—now a museum filled floor to ceiling with antiques and memorabilia from Holt’s acting career. “I was living the Hollywood dream, hanging out with A-list celebrities. But I wanted to open a toy fantasyland to help people relive their childhoods. That was the initial vision.”
But Holt’s neighbors in this conservative community didn’t care for his host of peculiar displays in the yard or his shoulder length hair.
“Everyone thought I was a meth dealer,” he says.
Is this the definition of trailer park trash?