Charles Lauri in make-up as a monkeyMay 23, 2015
Charles Lauri junior (1860-1903), English pantomimist and animal impersonator, in make up as a monkey
(photo: Van Bosch, Paris, circa 1894)
’… A parrot’s dress is often covered with real feathers, at very considerable cost, whilst every hair in the dress worn by puss in “Puss in Boots” is worked on, hair after hair, and takes at least three weeks to make. The face is partly a mask and partly painted. This latter remark also applied to the “make-up” of a poodle dog. Mr. Charles Lauri is certainly the most famous poodle and cat we have, and is a past-master not only in reproducing their movements, but in the marvellous way in which he reproduces the face of the animal he wants.
‘Some time ago I watched him make-up and dress for a monkey, and as his methods of working then practically govern his other remarkable animal studies, it may not be uninteresting to recount them here. The mask is an important item. This is put on the lower part of the face, so as to obtain the heavy, protruding jaw of the animal. It is made of a chocolate-coloured leather, with small straps. The movement of the eyebrows is obtained by a thread concealed in his heavy dress. The actor has a spring in his own mouth, which works the mouth of the animal and shows the two rows of ivory teeth.
‘First Mr. Lauri binds his ankles with a couple of strong, stout strips of linen. Then come the brown socks – there is a hole for every toe – the dress proper is put on, and combed out. Dressed entire, the face is the next thought. He “blues” both eyes all round, then with a mixture of lard and burnt umber – save where the mask is to come – he covers his face, not forgetting the hands and arms. A little blue is added to the brown on the face, and a few wrinkles are painted about the eyes in black and red. Then the mask is put on – being strapped round the neck and over the head. Wig and whiskers complete the operation – and we have a magnificent monkey… .’
(Harry How, ‘Pantomime Masks and Properties,’ extract, The Strand Magazine, London, December 1894, pp. 671-672)