Here’s something you won’t see every day – a wig block used for John Wayne’s hairpiece.
This wig block was last used for a Great Western Savings Bank commercial in the 70’s, when John Wayne was the spokesperson.
I collect Max Factor items. I bought this from a man who owns a wig company in Hollywood. He acquired it from an employee - an older woman who had worked for Max Factor for many years as a wig maker.
Max Factor was a wig maker and cosmetician to the Russian Imperial family in the late 1800’s. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and made wigs and makeup for Hollywood actors just as the film industry was forming.
In 1913, the Western film The Squaw Man was being filmed. Max noticed that the Indian characters were wearing wigs made of straw, moss, wool, and even tobacco leaves, because human hair wigs were very expensive. The film company could not afford to buy his wigs, but did offer to rent them for the duration of the film. Max agreed on one condition – that his three sons be hired as extras in order to keep an eye on and collect the wigs at the end of each day. The film was a hit, and the Factor sons looked after the wigs in hundreds of westerns in the next few years. By the 1940’s, the majority of the wigs in Hollywood films were supplied by Max Factor.
John Wayne would have gone to the Factor Studio to be measured for his hairpiece. A solid block of wood was then carved to his exact dimensions, with notations for hairlines, part location, and hair colors drawn on tissue paper that was glued to it. The hairpiece was made by knotting each human hair by hand onto a lace like base.
When Duke Wayne was asked if his hair was real, he would reply, “Sure, it’s just not my