Willis Wonderland, the home of Allee Willis, will be a museum for songwriters
Prudence Fenton wants to preserve the spectacular North Hollywood residence of Allee Willis — a 1937 Streamline Moderne pink house she called Willis Wonderland — as a 21st-century museum that will support and educate songwriters and media artists in communities disadvantaged.
Willis had a passion for mentoring various songwriters and media artists and wanted to secure a future for them, especially given the continuing decline in arts funding, Fenton said.
Fenton and Willis were life partners when Willis, 72, died suddenly on December 24, 2019.
Willis was a renowned and prolific songwriter who wrote many hits, including the theme song for the sitcom “Friends” and the 1979 Earth, Wind & Fire hit “Boogie Wonderland.”
“When I met Allee in the early 90s, she says, I want my house to be a museum. I want my legacy to live on,” Fenton said. “Allee also wrote in her will that if c possible, she would really like to see her house become a museum.
“Of course I was going to,” Fenton said. “My dream would be for this house, and what it has to offer and what its legacy offers, to stay for 100 years.”
Willis Wonderland will offer mentorships, seminars, talks and podcasts, as well as artist-in-residence programs, Fenton said.
Remembering Allee Willis, Prolific Songwriter and “Queen of Kitsch”
Willis Wonderland Fundraiser
Fenton will help host a fundraiser for Willis Wonderland and the Willis Wonderland Foundation on September 21 at Valentine in downtown Los Angeles.
The host committee includes RuPaul, Lily Tomlin, Luenell, Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman) and Jenifer Lewis.
The evening will include a live auction of some of Willis’ most notable collectibles, including exclusive memorabilia and artwork.
Known as the “Queen of Kitsch”, Willis curated one of the world’s largest collections of pop culture kitsch at Willis Wonderland, which she purchased with her first “Boogie Wonderland” royalty check.
A fashion show of pieces from Willis’ avant-garde wardrobe collection, which will be modeled by surprise famous faces, as well as a singing of some of Willis’ award-winning tunes, will also take place.
Willis, whose compositions have sold more than 60 million records, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
His catalog includes such hits as “Neutron Dance” by the Pointer Sisters, “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” by the Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield, “Lead Me On” by Maxine Nightingale and the theme from “The Karate Kid”. ,” “You are the best.”
Prior to his passing, Willis had been working with rapper Big Sean for a few months. Willis shared a photo of the two of them at his Los Angeles-area home studio in October 2019 on Instagram, expressing his excitement.
The intergenerational Detroit natives had met at Motown’s 60th anniversary celebration.