Frank Marshall Ventriloquist Figure “Nosey” Wig
I have written blogs in the past about wigs for ventriloquist figures and I certainly have mentioned Frank Marshall but I have not done one specifically on his wigging. So because of a special request I am doing so now.
Mr. Marshall took great care in wigging his figures. His wigs for the most part were done with a distinct sewn part on the side and came in both straight and wavy hair style. This was called a man’s regular hair cut. Short on the sides with a part and longer on top sometimes with a pompadour on the front. All were cut to perfection and ranged in colors from black to Irish red. I wish I knew where he got his wigs or if they are even available today like they were back then. They were really terrific.
To answer a question as to how they were made I actually removed the tacks holding the wig at the back of one of the original Nosey figures that has an original wig just so that I could show you that his wigs were a manufactured wig and were not custom made. They are of a small size ( child’s) and really do fit the size of his heads rather nicely with no cutting visible to me to make them fit. The sewn part in the hair is his signature style, Unfortunately there are no labels inside to see where they were made.
Frank Marshall “Nosey” Wig – the part seam
I presume that back in Frank’s day of the 1930’s to 1960’s you could have a local wig maker do up a low cost wig for you and in a quantity it would not have been too expensive. Today that is now a near impossible task as to have a run of wigs made special in size would cost a fortune. Those small mom and pop shops just do not exist any longer.
Underside of the Frank Marshall “Nosey” Figure wig
In Frank’s catalogue of 1931 he also offered crepe hair for the wig too. The crepe hair Marshall had to apply himself by hand. Once applied with spirit gum (glue) which is used with crepe hair, it can be pulled and shaped where you want it to go. When done correctly crepe hair really does look quite natural. The crepe hair was used by all the early figure makers at that time. It was and still is easily purchased at most costume outlets.
So this is all the information I can pass on to you about Frank Marshall and his wigs and I do hope it has answered some of your questions.
Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2011 by Dan Willinger
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My Great Uncle wore a hair piece-wig and the tell-tail mark of his wig was the stitched part. I think that must have been standard back in the day. I wonder if you talked to a barber who works with hair pieces if you could get some history on wigs, at least the barber maybe able to point you in the right direction. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a wig museum some place that would have a lot of information for you.
Dan…the wig on the figure you showed (top & bottom) was custom made for that figure, probably by a wig/toupee maker back in the early 50’s. Usually, Frank went to wig/toupee makers he knew & obtained used hairpieces. He would get the used “pieces” of the same color & make a wig for a specific figure. Frank would cut the smaller sections & attach them to the head with very small (1/8 black tacking nails). For the top of the head he would use the best toupee of the alike color hair pieces/toupee . That being the entire top of the head (the one with the part) That’s how Frank managed to put real hair wigs on most of the figures; some better than others. It’s possible that the owner of the figure you showed here had this wig custom made by a wig/toupee maker. The Marshall figures I had Frank make had their wigs done by Frank in the manner I explained. They were done very well; you’d never know they were done in sections. Franks was a very talented man.
Dan, Though short hair was common in his day. I remember both old Vents Bob king and Stanly Burns say that for the most part Frank Marshall liked to have short hair on his figures so the faces would stand out. The main thing is to see the figures face and not to have the face lost in a lot of hair.
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