Sean M. Spicer, whose famously rocky tenure as press secretary to President Trump made him a household name, has kept a relatively low profile since he resigned last summer — a cameo at the Emmys aside.
On Wednesday, he turned up in Manhattan, at Madame Tussauds, the tourist-friendly waxworks temple, where he had been enlisted to help unveil the likeness of a former White House colleague: the first lady, Melania Trump.
“She’s a very caring and gracious woman, and our country is grateful to have her,” Mr. Spicer said, holding a microphone in front of a reproduction of the Oval Office, which featured a giant Madame Tussauds flag.
“Amazing!” replied his interlocutor, Christine Haughney, the regional marketing manager for Tussauds’s parent company, Merlin Entertainments.
The departure of a high-level employee from the White House usually leads to a cable television contract or a big-time consulting gig. A few West Wing alumni ascend to elder-statesman status, joining the David Gergens and James Carvilles of the world.
Mr. Spicer has taken a different path. He pops up occasionally on cable, although none of the major networks have opted to hire him full-time. He spent a semester as a visiting fellow at Harvard, where students grumbled that he declared his seminars off the record. A rumored stint on “Dancing With the Stars” failed to materialize.
The wax first lady, for her part, looked on mutely as Mr. Spicer held court. The wax figure, which stands beside the Tussauds version of her husband, wears a cobalt Roland Mouret dress, just as Ms. Trump did at a debate during the presidential campaign.
Several wax popes and presidents stood nearby.
Unlike other celebrities whose likenesses were on display, Ms. Trump declined to make herself available for the unveiling. “Madame Tussauds previously informed Melania” of the statue, according to a spokeswoman, “but have not received an official response from her team.”
A representative of Ms. Trump did not respond to an inquiry on Wednesday. But her minders may be less than enthusiastic about one feature of the Tussauds exhibit: an interactive display that allows patrons to write Twitter messages to be sent from an account called @MTMelaniaMoment.
The name of the feature is “Give Melania a Voice.”
“Have you ever thought of what it would be like to be Melania Trump?” the instructions read, adding a caveat: “Have fun but please don’t be mean!”
In his discussion with Ms. Haughney, Mr. Spicer described the wax Melania as “unbelievably lifelike.” But he had some trouble coming up with a specific anecdote to share about the real Melania when prompted.
“She’s gracious and caring,” he said. “Very interested in who you are and the issues you have in your life. And I think, you know, that’s kind of who she is. She’s a very supportive — she’s very well-read and always interested in what’s happening and, to the extent possible, willing to share her thoughts and ideas about what’s going on.”
“Amazing!” Ms. Haughney replied.
The Tussauds appearance — for which Mr. Spicer was not compensated, according to a spokeswoman — was part of a publicity push by the former press secretary for his memoir, “The Briefing,” which is scheduled to be released in July.
A promotional flyer for the book promises readers “a roller-coaster ride” through his White House tenure. Mr. Spicer, who appears smiling on the book’s cover, said he was working with “a good team of folks” and called the writing process “a little therapeutic.”
“I’m the kind of person,” he said, “who, at the end of every day, I sit back, and think about, ‘Was I the best person I could be?’”
A journalist called out a question about how Ms. Trump had reacted to allegations that her husband carried on an affair with an adult film actress.
Mr. Spicer demurred. But, speaking generally about the first marriage, he said: “I’m sure they have their moments like any couple does.”
He added: “As a spouse of 14 years, I’ve had my own awkward moments. But I think there’s a genuine love and concern, and that’s what’s the most important part.”
Shortly after that, Mr. Spicer left the building. Wax Melania remained.