Author Topic: Mystery of the Hunchback  (Read 5843 times)

The Drunken Severed Head

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Mystery of the Hunchback
« on: December 12, 2007, 05:58:58 AM »
Over at the Yahoo site, Linda Miller (Meek) posted some photos of old hunchback figures. One was of an old, tall Quasimodo that she'd repainted and restored. In response, Bobby (toyranch), posted a pic of one just like it that he'd had (or seen, I forget which), next to a smaller, different Quasimodo figure. This smaller one he'd identified as a figure sold at Notre Dame Cathedral. It looked like this:



After this, another friend saw the photo above and said he believed the small Hunchback figure to be a party favor given to each of  500 members of the press at a 1923 New York luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria for the premiere of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (This was reported at the time by UNIVERSAL WEEKLY, the Universal house organ.

(A figure just like it has been confirmed as having been in the Lon Chaney estate.)

Then Robert (typhoome) sent me these pictures of a figure bought at Notre Dame around 1986:





It's the same as the one in Bobby's photo, except the base and a few minor details seem different.

So now the question is, could Notre Dame have been selling the same figure since 1923, and could the premiere figures be from Notre Dame?

(Quasimodo lovers: I have a link to a Golden Age comic story "The Phantom of Notre Dame", which has a Quasimodo who behaves like Erik, posted here:
http://universalmonsterarmy.com/forum/index.php?topic=238.msg2239#msg2239 )
« Last Edit: December 12, 2007, 07:20:16 AM by The Drunken Severed Head »

Monster Bob

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2007, 06:33:19 AM »



I think alot more proof is needed before anything can be said about these. The Hunchback is a classic popular literary figure, so naturally there would be many figures made of him in the past.  Did this article picture and specifically say these figures were made for this luncheon? Seems farfetched, because if they went to the trouble to specifically sculpt this for a specific occassion, wouldn't it be likely it would say LON CHANEY or UNIVERSAL PICTURES or something similar on it? More likely (if the figure is that old) that it was a store or souveneir item that was bought and given out, if that is indeed the case. It certainly doesn't look like Chaney, but oddly the two figures do resemble each other. The tall one looks like an English interpretation to me.

Toy Ranch

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2007, 08:40:58 AM »
The smaller figure at the top is the second one I've owned that was just like that, except the other had a darker wash paint job.   No question the smaller one is Lon Chaney, but the base difference on Robert's I don't think is of great significance.

As to whether this souvenir statue was taken from the original given out...  possible....  but I wouldn't bet on it.

gracebuster

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2007, 10:17:41 AM »
 Ahhh..Paris.



City of Lights, love ...and hunting down a (*at*)*&&(*at*)%$^ HUNCHBACK FIGURE.

Been there, done that. The tall figure was the one most available 3 years ago. The had a smaller figure, too but I gave all of those away. Can't rememeber if it looked like that smaller one.

I would agree with Bob that if they did give one away 70 years ago it would have been inscribed with some ballyhoo baout the film.- Granted, they could have just shipped a couple hundred back from Paris, as well. Could they have been using the same molds since then (retooled over the years)? Why not?

fmofmpls

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2007, 12:07:27 PM »
Construction on Notre Dame de Paris began in 1163. Is it therefore feasible that these sculptures date back even further than just 70 yrs ago? If so, then these sculptures could date back some 847 years! Of course, I have a "hunch" that I'm just being a wise ass here!  ;D
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Meek

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2007, 09:49:08 PM »


    The taller figure of Quasimodo is taken from a bronze statue; sorry but I don't have the information of who did the bronze but one of the castings had turned up on eBay from someone selling it in South America and it was from the late 1890s/turn of the century. Some years ago there was a catalogue from a company named Toscano near Chicago that makes reproductions of all sorts of statuary and they had the very same larger Quasimodo figure cast in some sort of polystone and refered to him as the "Handsome Quasimodo".
    The smaller figure turns up in reds, blues and browns and from the look of the detail on the figure it is an old recasting--it gets that "sugared" look to it like worn alabaster. The smaller figure also has the same look to it of the souvenir gargoyles sold around Notre Dame de Paris.
    I have the double book of Patsy Ruth Miller's autobiography "When Hollywood and I Were Both Young" and the MagicImage Filmbook for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and I don't recall any mention of these little statues of Quasi as being given out to those who worked on the film. Lon Chaney based his make-up on one certain illustrated edition of "Notre Dame de Paris" so I'm not surprised that he had one of these little statues.
   
    Will see if I can find out more about who sculpted the larger statue.

    "Meek"(walk this way)
"I am like a Unicorn in a racing stable. Beast doesn't fit."   T.E.Lawrence

The Drunken Severed Head

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2007, 02:49:58 AM »

    The taller figure of Quasimodo is taken from a bronze statue; sorry but I don't have the information of who did the bronze but one of the castings had turned up on eBay from someone selling it in South America and it was from the late 1890s/turn of the century...
    I have the double book of Patsy Ruth Miller's autobiography "When Hollywood and I Were Both Young" and the MagicImage Filmbook for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and I don't recall any mention of these little statues of Quasi as being given out to those who worked on the film. Lon Chaney based his make-up on one certain illustrated edition of "Notre Dame de Paris" so I'm not surprised that he had one of these little statues.
     

Thanks for the extra info, Meek!

My friend has seen that copy of UNIVERSAL WEEKLY that reports on the statues given to the press, so I believe did happen. It does seem likely that such items would be marked for the occasion. BUT, if they were imported figures made of plaster, there might be no way of inscribing the things, correct? (I'm no expert on plaster, so I'm asking.)

It's also possible, as Meek hints, that the figure in the Chaney estate is not from the press luncheon.

Meek

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2007, 11:30:07 AM »

    Max: My one souvenir grotesque from Notre Dame is an Elephant made from plaster and written on the bottom in pencil is the date of 1967 and Notre Dame de Paris. My best friend's father had a number of these little plaster figures from when he was in Paris during the War and all of them had the date, etc. written in pencil on the bottom. Grotesques are the much photographed decorative stone figures--the winged beastie sticking out it's tongue, another is chewing on a bone, an eagle, another beastie wearing a cowl, the elephant, where as "gargoyles" are the actual rain spouts that carry the water away from the building.
    I don't think there's any sort of marking on the base of my little red Quasimodo--will have to have a look when I get back home. You'd think that Universal's publicity department would've done something to remind people of the occassion that the little statues were given since "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" was an "A" picture.

    "Meek"
"I am like a Unicorn in a racing stable. Beast doesn't fit."   T.E.Lawrence

Monster Bob

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2007, 02:41:09 PM »



We have to keep in mind that even if Universal gave figures out, it doesn't necessarily mean that they gave out figures that were specially made for the occasion. Like busts of Beethoven or Shakespeare, figures of the hunchback would date back to the mid 1800s for sure, and would always have been available. Here is a book illustration from the mid 1800s, and to me, the little HB figure resembles this guy as much as it does Chaney...



...and another interpretation c. 1869...

Meek

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2007, 09:45:41 PM »


      Yes, Quasimodo has been around for a long time--since 1831 and then a year afterwards came Hugo's "Triboulet" aka Rigoletto in "Le Roi's Amuse" but before those two came the political cartoon character of "Mayeux" a hunchback who freely criticized the then government of Louis-Phillipe. Mayeux was so popular that in 1830 there were five stage performances running simultaneously and there were all sorts of Mayeux merchandising--you name it and Mayeux's likeness was on it. I happen to have a cast metal toothpick holder of a very dapper Mayeux. Betcha thought that Disney invented such product merchandising, didn't ya?
      Got out my MagicImage Filmbook of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and on page 21 are some illustrations from Chaney's personal copy of the book--it only says that it was an old illustrated edition and gives no date---I'll guess 1880's. Pages 35 to 67 are pages from pressbooks, studio publicity and movie program.

      "Meek"
"I am like a Unicorn in a racing stable. Beast doesn't fit."   T.E.Lawrence

Meek

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2008, 09:44:01 PM »

      Here is the replica elephant from Notre Dame dated 1967 found at a local junk store in Hooterville some years ago. This is a grotesque not a gargolye--gargoyles are rain gutters.

      "Meek"

     





   
"I am like a Unicorn in a racing stable. Beast doesn't fit."   T.E.Lawrence

Meek

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2008, 05:57:38 PM »

        Here is a photo of one of the origianl bronze castings of the tall Quasimodo statue; you can see that he's standing on a marble base. The sculptor was an L.Foucq and this was made around 1900. I'll post two more times with a close-up of detail on the face and of the artist's signature.

       "Meek"(more than just a hunch)


"I am like a Unicorn in a racing stable. Beast doesn't fit."   T.E.Lawrence

Meek

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2008, 06:01:23 PM »

      Here's the close-up view of the detail of Quasi's face that has been lost in all of those plaster castings of the statue.

"I am like a Unicorn in a racing stable. Beast doesn't fit."   T.E.Lawrence

Meek

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2008, 06:06:54 PM »

       And here is the sculptor's signature. I haven't done any searching as to who this person L. Foucq was but this statue is for sale on eBay in Belgium for many, many thousand Euros.(149,990 to be precise). Guess I'll have to be satisfied with my plaster Quasimodo knock-offs.

      "Meek"(humph indeed!)


"I am like a Unicorn in a racing stable. Beast doesn't fit."   T.E.Lawrence

Meek

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Re: Mystery of the Hunchback
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2008, 06:20:19 PM »

      What the heck, thought I'd throw in a photo of Mayeux just for good measure. You can see what a dapper fellow he is dressed in the clothes of a gentleman from the 1830's. This was an eBay find, just like all my other crookbacks in my collection, and have no idea how old it is and the seller didn't know either. This Mayeux toothpick holder stands about 6 inches high and is made of some sort of gilded potmetal.

     "Meek"



"I am like a Unicorn in a racing stable. Beast doesn't fit."   T.E.Lawrence

 

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