Girl in a plastic wig from 1963


Earlier this week I posted a photo of a box of three play wigs. Today, Theresa sent me the photo below, captioned "my sister in a soft plastic wig with cigarette circa 1963." It's my favorite photo of the year, by a long stretch. There are as many things to like about it as there are stars in the galaxy.

Theresa with wig_1.jpg



  1. Theresa and I must have grown up in the same house.

    I even remember one of my sisters getting that tug-along French poodle for Xmas.

  2. I can’t help but think that those wigs must have contained some horrible cancer causing polymer.

    Which if true would be incredibly ironic considering the fake cigarette.

    BTW I had one of those damn phones. “Squirgley squirgle, squirgely squirgle…” In fact they appear to have started making them again, despite the fact that nearly no child today has ever seen a rotary phone nor one with a “banana” handset and cradle-hook.

  3. Stellar photo. I seem to remember that in the early 60’s nearly every home I visited had a poodle of some kind: a crocheted booze bottle or bathroom tissue cover, china figurine, assorted toys, poodles embroidered on a pillow, painted on a vase, printed on a calendar or worse, a real one.

  4. She looks just like a young Noel Fielding! (In a good way–as if there is any other way!)

  5. “fake” cigarette? Looks like it was made in a do-it-yourselfer rolling mill(five long, cut the paper with a razor blade)

  6. And who’s the dude/dudette to the right with the chubby legs? Completely cute, reminds me of my youth

  7. BTW I had one of those damn phones. “Squirgley squirgle, squirgely squirgle…”

    I had that squeaky squonky phone.

    I as well.

    And clearly that cigarette makes her look sophisticated. ;)

  8. To all who sai they like the “squeaky squonky” phone. That’s a Fisher-Price Chatterbox Phone. I had one, too…

  9. Great photo. It is amusing to me that Fisher-Price still sells those anthropomorphic rotary phones. What youth of today is gonna know what a rotary phone is?

  10. …my sister and I had them…best thing: the brown one turned my red hair into an incredibly stylish brunette-hair-do…just like my gorgeous mother’s…worst thing: the glamour was short lived, as the wigs were SO insanely HOT…not made, I was sure, for little girls who lived in southern california…

    but, I tell you, with 3 PLAY WIGS, strechy stirrup pants, and candy cigarettes, we were the essence of chic…

  11. you may be sad looking back at yourselves and thinking, “kid, good thing ya don’t know what’s coming”, but now you have the adult duty of keeping that a secret for the benefit of other children today.

  12. Funny thing about rotary phones…they seem to be iconic of “phone”, some sort of technological platonic ideal casting a shadow on our mortal plane.

    I know this because awhile back I showed my little niece the “yipyipyipyipPhone” Sesame Street sketch on YouTube, and she had no difficulty accepting that the object that they were referring to:

    1) Had a rotary dial

    2) Had a banana handset

    3) Made the old-fashioned “ring-ring!” noise like no phone on earth these days, barring a cell phone en-ringtoned by some hipster into retro irony.

    So I’m convinced there’s something going on.

  13. I’m pretty sure a lot of children’s books, particularly the “classics,” depict telephones the old style. That’s probably where kids pick up on it.

  14. That’s because the other option is what? A rectangle? A bluetooth headset? They’re no fun to draw. I can’t tell the difference between the schizophrenics and everyone else any more.

  15. Man, if only that were a little kiddie B3 she was sitting in front of…

    This is the sort of picture that deserves to be hanging over a bar somewhere, surrounded by bottles and laughing people.

  16. Sometimes looking at a shelf full of old toys at a thrift store gives me a terrible bummer. There’s something about the really old toys shown that’s has a similar vibe.

    But the kid makes the difference here. She’s a real hoot.

  17. I’m voting for Grandma as the owner of the mystery leg.

    All I can think of is the dinner table, off in the next room, groaning under the weight of mid-century interpretations of Old Country recipes, not one molecule of which hasn’t been processed, canned, frozen, or invoked from a powder (you just know there’s jello).

    I’ve never seen a surviving Play Wig. I seem to remember they tore rather easily, but on top of that do you suppose they’ve simply rotted away?

  18. The look on her face says,”Do you really think I’m going to pull your finger? Can’t you see how sophisticated I am?”

  19. @27:

    3) Made the old-fashioned “ring-ring!” noise like no phone on earth these days, barring a cell phone en-ringtoned by some hipster into retro irony

    I’m a ‘hipster into retro irony” because I made my blackberry sound like an actual *phone* ???

    Thanks, I guess. On second thought, I’ll just go back to my corner.

  20. Apparently, this phone was one successful product. I also had one (in the Netherlands) and recently I saw one at the consultation bureau.
    My 2 year old had no hesitation in identifying it as a phone either, even though me and my wife always sport cutting edge telecommunications devices.

  21. @29: Well, yeah, a rectangle.

    We have this el cheapo handheld casino game; it plays a tinny version of “We’re In The Money” when it “pays out”. Littlest Niece, age 16 months, knows she can crack up the room by picking it up when it does this, holding it to her ear, and saying “Heyyoh?”

  22. These comments are hilarious! BTW, it was a real cigarette. I was 11 years old. I set up the picture and took it with my Brownie and bulb flash. The leg I think belongs to my father’s cousin Rosie. My little sister’s name is Marion and I am sure she would love to appear on an album cover!

  23. I also had the phone. I think it was pretty much standard issue in the early 60’s. That leering, suggestive smile…it still sends a shiver up my spine. My imagination still reels at the sort of late night calls you could get on a phone like that.

  24. “The cow says moo,” said the voice on the other end of the line.

    “Got it,” I replied, “the chicken says bok.”

    The line went dead.

    I sat up and rubbed my still-sleepy eyes.

    So it seemed that Dmitri had put The Cow back in play after all. Time to get Belgrade on the phone. The Beagle would not be pleased.

  25. I had one of those phones growing up and I grew up in the 80’s. I fully intend to get one for my child/children should I ever have any. I loved that damned thing.

  26. Lynda Barry featured the play wigs in one of her books. As I recall, the recipient was horrified at the reality vs advertised wigs- until they became the highlight of “an alien monster has attacked my head” game.

  27. The phone, or one very much like it, appears in “The Powder Puff Girls” cartoon. The mayor uses it to summon the young superheroes.

    #35: “I’ve never seen a surviving Play Wig. I seem to remember they tore rather easily, but on top of that do you suppose they’ve simply rotted away?”

    My theory is they evolved sapience and migrated to a remote island where they could live in peace.

  28. man, i could have used one of these for my daughter who was bald until her 3rd birthday whoo-hoo

  29. This was one of the few toys we were denied for sope inexplicable reason…we did have access to candy and bubblegum cigarettes. I would have turned 5 that year and am still not that sophisticated.

  30. I got all three wigs for Christmas years ago, have pictures to prove it. I remember thinking I looked so GREAT and CUTE wearing them…

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