World of Wax

Registered: ​25th May 1962
Duration: 26 minutes
Feet: 2340 feet
Board of Trade Certificate number: ​BR/E27424
Produced for : United Artists
Production Company: ​Harold Baim Film Productions (London) Limited

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Features Sir Stirling Moss submitting to being measured for his wax work at Madam Tussaud’s in 1962

Title and Credits:

Brought to you by : Michael Fay
Eastmancolor Photography by:​ Eric Owen, Alan Pudney
Research by : Jim Catney
Music by: De Wolf
Recordists: York Scarlett, Tommy Meyers, Fred Flemming
Edited by: Peter Vincent

The producers gratefully acknowledge the co-operation of: National Maritime Museum (Greenwich), The British Museum (London), Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew), The London Museum, Westminster Abbey and Madame Tussauds Exhibition (London).

Directed by: Paul Weld Dixon
Produced by : Harold Baim


A floor is polished. Candles burn. Riding boots are cleaned. They have something in common. Flowers in a vase. A Madonna and child. An industrial floor polisher. They too have something in common. Do you know what that something is?

The pictures you have just seen all belong to "The World of Wax".


At the British Museum in London, stands the proof that man, since the beginning of time, has wanted to model and create likenesses of himself and the world around him.

At Westminster Abbey, our effigies are the famous which were paraded during their funerals to show the crowds who it was who had died. Queen Anne. Her effigy was created in 1714.

At the London Museum are delicate miniatures in wax. Of William and Mary, and the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.

This is a specimen of the South American palm from which wax is obtained.

Crude wax has to be melted as a first step in its refinement. Passing through various stages, it is then poured into pans to cool and eventually harden.

This is a picture of a man called Curtius, a doctor who became an artist in wax. He created this miniature of Voltaire. The only remaining example of his work. The sister of Curtius was born in 1761. And during the French Revolution, she was forced to make death masks.

She came to England in 1802 and established a wax works at the old Lyceum in the strand. She was not alone in her enterprise. Competition came from an exhibition in Piccadilly, and another in Fleet Street.

The best of them survived, and in the year 1835 the building, which today is one of the show places of London, was opened. The waxworks, which had toured the British Isles, finally came to rest.

Spending some time at the court of Louis XVI, some of her finest work was accomplished. Who are the celebrities of the 20th century who come here to be immortalized in wax?

Whilst this old lady is destined to sit here until someone moves her away.

The business of creating lifelike models in wax is complex, intricate, and involved.

Don Thompson and Kenneth Moore watched the proceedings as one of the world's four top racing drivers, Stirling Moss, has his vital statistics taken for his effigy. How could he be nervous? Every detail is noted, every measurement is checked and double checked. Every moment of the interview is utilised to the full, for there rarely can be a second sitting with the celebrities who have reached this pinnacle of fame. Length. Breadth. Bumps. Dents. An analysis of every change of expression has to be noted, so that the final result is so lifelike that in many cases, it becomes almost electrifying.

A clay construction of the face commences. A rough resemblance of Stirling Moss is built up little by little and piece by piece.

After 4 or 5 hours the work is done. It could, however, take 4 or 5 weeks before the head is eventually complete.

The making of their head mold is the next step. The years of experience spent in this craft of creation in wax are put into the making of each single exhibit.

Stirling Moss's leg is removed from its mould. These people must have been the first to really saw a woman in half. Now the time arrives for the molten wax to be poured into the mold.

It will remain there for about 5 hours until it sets. He must now be patient, and in the meantime, he can have a cup of tea, if he can hold the cup with his left hand.

There is very little difference in the atmosphere of the studios from the days of more than 100 years ago. Now they break open his hand. Or rather, they chip the plaster cast from it.

Into the cast goes the liquid wax. Eventually it sets. The craftsmen who did this deserves a big hand. He got it.

The other plaster mold is opened. And would you believe it? Yes, it's the almost too good to be true likeness of the face of Stirling Moss, in wax.

Work on making the head come to life begins. From a carefully prepared range of samples, colour and textures matched and human hair. Yes, human hair, is meticulously inserted into the wax.

Moss has his torso filed and shaped. The first time this has happened to him, I'll bet. But the most difficult task of all is matching the eyes. The human eye has such a variety of delicate colouring. Then, in spite of the fact that several thousand pairs are in stock, something different seems always to be required.

The hair fixing, after about a month's work, is almost completed.

A body must have legs. Transparent watercolours are used for the complexion. The building up of the delicate colors in the face of a film star, or the tough face of a boxer, are carried out with dexterity and skill. Legs must have a body.

Oh,Oh. The eyes have it. Or should I say the eyes had it. Waste not. Want not. It really doesn't hurt a bit. There are only a certain number of places available, even for the famous. When new figures are made. Then someone else just has to go to make room for them.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Wax to wax. Mr. Stirling Moss takes his place amongst the mighty.

So much for those alive today, but what a different story it is when a model has to be made of a person long since gone. To the archives of museums, to the art galleries, to the experts and authorities, and to the libraries go the research team. To the Maritime Museum for details of Horatio Nelson and his death aboard HMS victory.

On the 18th September 1805, Admiral Lord Nelson took command of the British fleet blockading the French and Spanish fleets in Cadiz.

Whilst Nelson's ship victory was otherwise engaged, sharpshooters from another ship, the Redoutable, rained down bullets on the Victory from a range less than 50 yards, and suddenly Nelson fell and died in the arms of Hardy.

At the Maritime Museum, the work of reconstruction begins. Commander May makes available the actual uniform worn by Nelson. His decorations and other essential data. This is the actual bullet hole in the shoulder of Nelson's uniform. The famous painting by Devis has a glaring error. Nelson is portrayed with the wrong shoulder being dressed.

An exact replica of this lantern from HMS Victory will be made for the death of Nelson Tableau. Authentic down to the last button, the wardrobe department goes into action to recreate the naval rig of those times. The months of research, work and creative genius are amply repaid. The tableau is complete, and as we gaze upon it, we can almost hear the last words Nelson ever spoke. "Thank God I have done my duty".

Lifelike to an uncanny degree are the images of yesterday and the likenesses of today. What do you really know about them? Here's de Gaulle of France and Kennedy of America. What is the de Gaulle's Christian name? His Christian name, Charles right. And Kennedy's Christian name? John Kennedy. Okay.

This is a uniform of a British naval officer. The wearer is Chief of Britain's Defence Staff. Who is it? Correct. Admiral of the fleet. Earl of Burma, Lord Louis Mountbatten. Lord Louis held a high position in India. Do you know what that was? The year 1947. He was the last viceroy before the continent was partitioned.

Can you say, what was the year of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? Answer 1953. June 2nd, 1953 to be absolutely correct.

This is Queen Victoria, who was her husband? Prince Albert, full title Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

William Shakespeare was born in the reign of the reign of. No, not this one. She was the wife of another William. William the Conqueror. The bard of Avon, was born in the reign of Elizabeth I. Shakespeare wrote many plays about the British monarchy, one of which dealt with Richard. Which Richard is this? Richard III, who was held to be responsible for a murder. What was it?

He was concerned in the intrigue which led up to the murder of his nephews, the princes in the tower.

Eminent literary men. Who are they? Charles Dickens. H.G. Wells. Dickens wrote a series of sketches. What was their name? Yes, papers. But what papers? Pickwick Papers. H.G. Wells wrote one of the following. Which one of them did he write? "The shape of things to come", "Man and Superman". "Peter Pan".

H.G. Wells wrote The Shape of Things to Come. Man and Superman was written by George Bernard Shaw. And Peter Pan was, of course, written by J.M. Barrie.

Now to the world of stage, screen, radio and television. Leslie Caron is here in the company of Julie Andrews, Peter Sellers and Tony Hancock. Julie Andrews starred in My Fair Lady, the musical adaptation of a play written by this man. Now, what was its name? Right? Pygmalion.

In which town in England was Mr. Anthony Hancock born? Where was he born? Well, Birmingham is the city with that distinction. To whom is Leslie Caron married? She's the wife of the director of Stratford's Memorial Theatre, who is? Peter Hall. Peter Sellers, in his famous radio show, who were the other two in his team of goons? One was Spike Milligan, who was the other? Correct. Harry Secombe.

Can you name the wives of Henry VIII? Who is this? Catherine of Aragon This? Anne Boleyn. Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr, the sixth and last wife. Which of his six wives was Catherine of Aragon? She was his first.

A magnificent example of a wax work and a magnificent example of a man. William Wilberforce. For what will he be remembered? The abolition of slavery within the British Empire in the years 1833 and 1834.

So there you are, just a few of those who have been immortalised in a world of wax, and who now take their bow.

You'd be surprised at the effort that has to be put into the maintenance of the figures. The constant attention that has to be given to keep them in order. Though you could not exactly say working order.

People regularly lose their heads here. Kings, Queens, statesmen, athletes, film stars. No matter who, no distinction is made.

The wardrobe mistress and maintenance staff see that the fabrics are changed when soiled. That shoes are polished. Buttons, medals, everything is kept bright and shining. It is just as well she has her name tattooed on her chest.

With upwards of a million people a year thronging its halls, the studio departments keep up a constant fight against dirt and dust. Each model receives a complete beauty treatment and overhaul once every four months.

Finally, let's meet some of the backroom boys. The bodybuilders who have been engaged in their work for so many years that it has almost become a part of them.

The lady beauticians and wardrobe departments who lavish as much care on their inanimate charges as would be given to humans.

A school near Windsor in England, has the distinction of having the two sons of Angelo Tussaud amongst its students. Will they one day continue the work of so many generations past? Will they perpetuate the name which, like the Houses of Parliament, is an undying part of London? Immortal is their world of wax, and immortal is the old lady who began it all so very long ago.

[The End] 

All music should be cleared with 

De Wolfe Music 
Queen’s House 
180-182 Tottenham Court Road