What was the story with Jack's hair?

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What was the story with Jack's hair?

Postby kovacsian » Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:23 pm

Okay, I know this is a bit goofy but it's puzzled me-and it's not a toupee question!

I'm a big film fan(natch)and years ago was reading a film history book with a candid picture of Benny, Carole Lombard and others doing a table read during production of for "To be or Not To Be". It's a non-posed, unofficial shot--Carole is not wearing makeup, and neither is Jack, because what struck me about the photo is that is seems obvious that his hair in 1940 wasn't black or even dark, but looked quite gray.

Over the years since, in a lot of candid photographs--for instance the WW2 "entertaining the troops" pictures, I've noticed Jack also appears to have gray hair. So...since obviously he's not gray in any official pictures...the question is--what was he doing to his hair? I mean,if he'd just dyed it(the easiest option one would think)it'd be dark all the time. Was there some brilliantine-type stuff that got a temporary effect for cameras or something? Am I hallucinating? It's a curious thing.

As an aside, I have to say you really get a sense of how nice a person Jack was in candids...he always looks totally relaxed and smiling-if not outright laughing. Far from the case with a lot of other performers when seen off the set.
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Re: What was the story with Jack's hair?

Postby Jhammes » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:34 am

Jack did have premature gray, dying his hair only for movies or newspaper pics for the radio show. Why not all the time, at least through the 'forties... to quote Benny Rubin, "I Dunno".
Beginning with television, Jack would for the most part dye his hair full time 1950s onward... apparently in a pre 24/7 visual media world, it had just never been much of an issue. Anyone else know?
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Re: What was the story with Jack's hair?

Postby mrudolp » Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:23 pm

I'm not sure about the dye issue, but I do know that he used black shoe polish on the bald spot on the back of his head when he was performing -- probably an old Vaudeville trick.
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Re: What was the story with Jack's hair?

Postby kovacsian » Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:51 pm

Thanks guys, for the replies! I know it seems beyond arcane, perhaps, to bring it up but what the heck, it's just one of those little things that I've noticed.

And you're right about it not mattering as much in the pre-24/7 or TV media days...where it gets funny is when Jack is doing both radio and filming at the exact same time yet seemingly didn't bother to actually dye his hair permanently while filming if the pics are any indication. I'm guessing now that he probably wore either a full toupee or brushed some powdered stuff in for filming/some stills. You'd think it'd have been way easier to dye it...Jack seems to have been the least vain performer ever--he obviously couldn't have cared less. :)
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Re: What was the story with Jack's hair?

Postby helloagain » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:40 pm

Despite all the on air jokes that were made about his toupee, Jack only wore a hairpiece in his movie roles. Most all actors wore them in those days, when bald was not 'in'.
"Hey, Jackson, does Fred Allen always talk through his nose?"

"Yes, Phil. He's the only comedian who tells 'em and smells 'em at the same time!"
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