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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 real hair.”

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Interesting :) Also about the original Max Factor. Was one of the sons named Max as well ? Did one or all of them continue the business ? Curious.
All of his children and many grandchildren were involved in the business. After his death in 1938, his son Frank legally changed his name to Max Jr., and became president of the company. The makeup division of the company was very demanding. The Factors were really chemists, constantly inventing new products. Every time the film used in movies changed and advanced, makeup had to change, to make faces look natural. Max Sr. won a special Oscar in 1928 for his work in that area.

Here's a list of some of their innovations:
The first greasepaint makeup that wouldn't dry and crack on the face, allowing close up shots on film.
Invented lip gloss, false eyelashes, the first waterproof makeup, Pan-Cake makeup, and the first camouflage makeup (for the Marine Corps)
Created the first platinum blond hair color, for Jean Harlow

The history of the Max Factor Co. is really the history of film, they were so intertwined.

The company was sold in the 1980's to Revlon, and then to Proctor and Gamble. In 2010, they plan to discontinue the Max Factor brand of makeup in the U.S., and concentrate on their other more profitable brand, Cover Girl.

A sad ending to a fascinating story.
John Wayne--Commercial--Great Western Savings Bank

I thought you were talking about me for a minute there! ;
You'd be surprised how many middle aged and older actors back then wore hairpieces - most of them, since this was before hair transplants. It sounds like Duke had a sense of humor about his.
John Wayne and His Lack of Hair Comments on YouTube, no less..
Not only was the Duke bald, so were Gene Autry & Lorne Greene. Greene's wigs were made from angora goat hair. If you want to see him without his wig, rent a copy of the color remake of THE BUCCANEER, the one starring Yul Brynner as Laffite & Charlton Heston as Andy Jackson. Lorne Greene's in 2 scenes in the Louisiana Gov's mansion. He's hard to recognize without his Ben Cartwright wig but his voice is unmistakable.

I've got a pal who's got a photo of Wayne without his rug, taken in Nam. He was on perimenter & they knew they were getting a VIP but nobody said who it was. He kept his eyes front as he should in case the VIP was a general. Somebody climbed into the hole with him & he felt a hand on his shoulder, & then that very distinctive voice said "Well, son, whadda we got out there?"

He said "I knew nothin' was gonna happen to me that night. I coulds whipped the whole NVA army an' every Cong in Nam. I had John Wayne in the hole with me."


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