FRENCH ANGEL DEATH MASKS



Maurice Tillet's 'FIVE' death masks
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This passion for all things Maurice Tillet was sparked by research undertaken to confirm the authenticity of a Maurice Tillet death mask you see below. There was only ever to have been three created and this one makes 4. 



Maurice Tillet, The French Angel, Death Mask

These busts have their origins when a mold of Maurice's head was taken, from Maurice Tillet, in 1954 just prior to his death. 


 TheFrenchAngelDeathMask@gmail.com
 If your interested in knowing more about the death masks.

Maurice Tillet and his Death Mask.

The death mask above / below was made from originally having taken a mold of Maurice's, very unique, head and therefore is the exact size and shape of his head.

This death masks of Maurice Tillet, French Angel, were initially created by amateur artist, and fellow wrestler, Robert Manoogian Jr..  Robert's wrestling name is Bobby Managoff. 
 
These have always been called Death Masks, however these are, more correctly called, life-castings.  

It is more than likely these were called death masks because the mold was not turned into a bust until after Maurice's death 1954.  They were almost certainly created in 1958 as that is the date on the back-side of these busts.

Description of Life Casting:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifecasting

The following details are all applicable to the research done on these busts.
1.   "Demold Cast. Once the casting material has acquired the shape of the mold and cured fully, the cast is carefully removed from the mold. Molds may survive but often do not, resulting in one-of-a-kind, "one-out" works."

2.   "Probably the most popular alteration is to add paint and various finishes to the surface of the lifecast."  


All literature out there WAS consistent in reporting three busts were created by the artist.  We now know there are a minimum of four.  Three are are residing in museums.

With the kind help of museum curators and staff where those life casts are now are, pictures were taken, and a detailed comparison completed between the once you see above and the other three in existence. All four busts are identical down to the last line and groove.

The only obvious differences are:
1. Two of the busts out there have been confirmed as sealed with a pink finish.
2. The signature area of those two that are pink are filled with black paint.

 You can see these differences below between them.
Maurice Tillet Death Mask - Signature area 


Maurice Tillet Death Mask


The photos provided by the other museums conclusively proved that this was identical to the others.

The FOUR life-casts, called death-masks, currently known:

Robert Manoogian Jr. aka Bobby Managoff was a talented artist. If there is any question of his talent, here is a picture of Bobby with some of the Tiki's he carved.: http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=40311&forum=1&5 


Bobby Managoff with Woodcarvings and in wresting pose.

  
The HISTORY and LOCATION of each mask

BUST ONE:
One went to Henry 'Milo' Steinborn. 
Milo donated his mask to the York Barbell Museum & USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame. 3300 Board Rd. York, PA 17406. 
07/11/2014 I interviewed Dick Steinborn, Milo's son.  Dick indicated that his father's bust of Maurice was given to Bob Hoffman.  Here is what wikipedia say's about Bob : "wikipedia say's about Bob : "Bob Hoffman, named "Father of World Weightlifting" by the International Weightlifting Federation, bought the Milo Barbell Company and founded York Barbell in 1932."  Dick said that Bob was instrumental in assisting Milo to immigrate from Germany to the U.S. and he wanted to give him something to say thank-you.

2012 - The museum is cleaned for guests, however not staffed by anyone, due to low attendance. They were unable to provide detailed pictures of their bust for examination. Thankfully there were two online pictures of this bust that I could use to compare with the other busts out there. The stippling on the lower right hand corner of their mask was identical to the others.
 Here is Henry 'Milo' Steinborn he was a wrestler and strong man with a fascinating history: 



I do not have the date of donation from Henry "Milo" Steinborn to the York Barbell Museum, however it is noted the Milo died in 1989.

 Maurice Tillet Death Mask at USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame and York Barbell Museum
The pictures of the bust above are from an excellent article about the York Barbell Museum about Maurice and the museum:
 http://www.interestingamerica.com/2012-03-31_USA-Weightlifting-Hall-of-Fame_by_Grigonis.html  
This mask, if the story holds true, would have been the one seen by someone at Dreamworks and became the inspiration for Shrek.

BUST TWO:
Donated by Patrick Leonard aka Patrick Kelly in 2006 to the Warren Anatomical Museum at Harvard. 
The following site is where we see of its donation to the Harvard Museum:
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:nGJbE4SHwfIJ:https://www.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/about/reports/Center_Annual_Report_FY06.pdf+Warren+Anatomical+Museum+Maurice+tillet&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShdXNN2SmA30SfOGsZAamHi9Q995iTz1scnAO2dZRPejqSgckIS-uyMD2QdcksCT1NYzHhuav-_c1GEo1xZUcXXIU4z05sTB1laj5UmD8uzCn98I__XC-kRbynXBfoTc_Vd-59m&sig=AHIEtbRis-bPMc1sWina93KCcpFpwqYLIg


****Note - The bust at this location is not currently on display.****
Museum leadership was kind enough to retrieve the bust from their storage and take detailed photos to allow me to do the compare.  Details of that compare will be provided to any party who is interested.

BUST THREE:
The last was donated by Patrick Leonard in 2006 to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, 303 Jefferson Street, Waterloo, IA 50701.



Maurice Tillet Death Mask at National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Dan Gable Museum

I found a blog detailing the packaging of the one that was donated to National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum. Author is "Donna". 
The blog from 2006 is titled "Have you secured the Death Mask?" here:  http://kittenmuffins.blogspot.com/2006/07/have-you-secured-death-mask.html
“Weirdness at work this week. A friend/neighbor of my Dad's (an 89 year old man who is QUITE the character, he's always writing articles/books & the inside of his house is like a museum) called and asked if I could ship a package for him. He said it was "the death mask of the angel" !?!?! Obviously, I was a bit confused!! Turns out it was in a HUGE box, that we ended up opening and repacking for him (so it wouldn't break). He explained that it was of his friend Maurice Tillet, The French Angel, a famous wrestler years ago. When he died 3 death masks were made of him. Pat kept 2 of them (one he kept in his office!). When I saw it, it was MASSIVE, the guy had a disorder that hade his bones grow abnormally so he had a very large head. What it looked like was a 3 dimensional white plaster head. Whomever made it, made it more like a bust. I expected it to be just a face, but it went all the way around. I sort of wish I'd taken pictures of it 'cause it was really interesting. But now it's on its way to The Wrestling Museum (he donated it). After we had it all wrapped up I had to keep saying, "Have you secured the death mask?". It just sounds so Raiders of the Lost Ark to me!”

I did my best to find Patrick Leonard and to speak with him directly, but unfortunately he passed March 19th 2013.  Peace to his ashes. 

In researching, these Death Masks, I have come to be extremely fond of Maurice and what he achieved for himself and raising public consciousness about Acromegaly. 

In the ring he nurtured his villain persona. Out of the ring he trained to be as strong as possible, however at the same time was noted for being gentle, kind, and intelligent. 

His personality earned him much respect and turned him into a proper celebrity.




What got me here:

I picked up this bust approximately 18 years ago and never had any idea of who it was.   Was not even sure that it was a real person.  I always assumed it was a failed art project.   Sunday 09/02/2012, I woke to the TV program, Mysteries at the Museum. The program was running a segment called, “A Monster of a Man” in Season 3, Episode 10... You can see a very abbreviated segment online here: http://www.travelchannel.com/video/a-monster-of-a-man

This episode details “The French Angel” Maurice Tillet. On the screen Lindsey Thieman, Manager of Exhibits - Int’l museum of surgical science was explaining the life of Maurice. 

Waking up to this program I was staring at the real person I had been looking at all these years. On the TV was a bust of Maurice done by Louis Linck in 1950 that now resides at the Chicago’s International Museum of Surgical Science.




This bust. we had been calling FRED, now had a proper name. 

We absolutely had no idea the bust is the actual size of the individuals head. 

I know that, at various times, we saw the signature section on the back of the bust where it says, Maurise Tillet, “The Angel”. 

Back in 1995 the internet was not around and therefore finding information on something like this was almost impossible. I remember that I thought "Maurice Tillet" may have been the artist that created it, and that "The Angel" may have been a boxer. 

I always assumed it was an amateur artists oversized representation of some athlete. I never dreamed it to be the exact shape and size of a mans head.

I immediately started researching Maurice.

I ran across a picture, on Google Images, of a bust at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum. 




This bust of Maurice looked EXACTLY like the one I have. This is the picture that set me on the path to understanding Maurice.  I love the picture of the boy being held up in the picture behind the mask. I found a post online of person who had the same experience of being picked up by Maurice as a child. http://slices-of-life.com/2008/02/26/meet-maurice-tillet-the-real-world-shrek/
 
Sharon Coe - Jan.17, 2012 at 2:36pm -
"Maurice was a wonderful loving man. I met him the first time when I was 4 years old and I was scared of him. He was a very big man. But as time went on I became to view him as a big teddy bear. He was very gentle when he picked me up and his huge hands were as soft and loving as could be. What a great guy he was."

The below picture is almost certainly not Sharon, however it is a great pic:




This bust is commonly known as the Death Mask of The Angel. There were no detailed pictures of this bust online in order to perform a proper compare. While I sought contacts from those museums I collected pictures and details from Maurice’s life. In 1954 Maurice was very sick and fellow wrestler and friend, Bobby Managoff asked him if he could take a mold of his head. Maurice agreed. 

A couple of websites said this seemed really weird. I laughed when I read that they found this action weird. WEIRD, or rather DIFFERENT, was the life Maurice led. 

He cultivated and highlighted his differences, and for good or bad, he put what set him apart to work for him. Harvard, at one time, took measurements of Maurice’s head as part of their ongoing research. 




TIME Magazine Article detailing Harvard measuring Maurice - March 4th 1940:

http://books.google.com/books?id=pT8EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA38&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false When Harvard wants to take your body measurements, it is not for ongoing research into normal.

According to all sources, three masks were created from the mold taken of Maurice’s head just prior to his death in 1954.

I contacted the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum and they were kind enough to take quality photos of their mask so that I could compare it to mine. 
I found the one I had to be identical to theirs

Eventually I was able to get detailed pictures of the bust at the Warren anatomical museum, and it was exactly the same as the one at National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, including the pink paint or lacquer, and black filling in the inscription area.

I was not able to get those detailed photos of the one at York Barbell, however was able to compare the unique surface on the front right front corner and was able to confirm it also is identical. The only outstanding mystery was if this one back had paint in the inscription area, and whether it is coated in clear or pink lacquer.

As soon as I knew what I had, this artifact from Maurice's life, took on life. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. This is why this blog had to go into everything about the Original Angel. We had to delve into the mysteries of Maurice himself. 

I had to understand why he had a lasting affect on people almost 60 years after his death.

I continue to work to understand this very unique and decent human being.


11 comments:

  1. Hello guy that owns a deathmask (i dont recall seeing your name on this site)
    I'm writting to you because you said you might wanted to sell the master bust that you have. if you could name a price for me, if it isn't sold yet, it would be awesome.
    kind regards R. Jans

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    Replies
    1. Rasmus Jans, My blog here is for Maurice, so I stay in the background and don't tie myself to it by name. Hence why I have not shared my name here. As for your question. I just scrubbed my pages here for any mention that I was interested in selling it. I found only this, "At one time, when I started this, I was interested in selling it. Not so much anymore!". Honestly, I have very little desire to sell, and hence why I will not put a price on it. It's probably now worth far more to me than anyone else out there. All the best, TOM.

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  2. Thank you for this great site and descriptions. My better half sits on one of the Committees of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum currently in Amsterdam, NY. My very first PWHF Indution weekend was in 2012 when Maurice was inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was a very emotional evening, great film montage. They have 2 stories of memorabilia and items from as far back as the Civil War era and quite a few great pics from the 40s and Maurice as well.
    Thank you again for this great tribute to a wonderful man!
    "K" aka Tygress Lourdes

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  3. Would you consider having the bust laser scanned to generate a stl file?... This would allow people to 3d print a bust of their own... You could sell the file to help support the cost of this site. I would definitely purchase one.

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    Replies
    1. I appreciate the question, and like the idea, but I am going to have to decline. These original castings of Maurice's head are unique in the world and there is only 5 total copies produced. I don't feel as if it would be up to me alone to make that decision to allow more copies. It would need to be a group decision, among the museums and owners, and the likelihood of consensus is unlikely. FYI, there is no cost associated with this site, other than my personal time. It is a labor of love that I collect and share all the details, articles, and pictures, that I have found. I very much appreciate your interest in Maurice!!

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    2. Understandable. But consider it as a method much like this site to keep his memory alive. Simply wrap a cloth around the base before scanned and the file will be different with no details of the base... Most printers produce in a 8" by 8" envelope or smaller... Would love to have his company on my desk..

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  4. Hello,

    since you own the replica of his head, can you please share what his total head height is (bottom of chin to top of head), and also his bizygomatic breadth (please google that to see what it is if you don't already know). Thanks a lot!

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    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Anonymous. My name is Tom. Your question is SUPER SPECIFIC. What's your interest? As your asking about the life-casting, your interest is clearly on the casting and not on Maurice.
      Regarding, "bizygomatic breadth". That requires a proper and very large calipers to measure. I don't have them, but I have been meaning to get one to assist in some research.
      There is that iconic picture of Carlton Coon measuring Maurice's bizygomatic breadth.
      The measurements on the bust,that I have been able to validate, appear 1/2 inch greater in size, than the original measurements of Maurice taken at Harvard of Maurice in 1940. I suspect the variance to be fat and muscle. I hope that helps a little. If you're looking for more, let me know.
      I am not certain of what you mean by "top of the head" in total head height, so I cannot help you on that one. REGARDS. TOM

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  5. hi, me again,

    I was always curious about Maurice's facial measurements, but I have never been able to find where they have been posted (but i know he did get them measured by CC) without paying for a site subscription (which honestly, i refuse to do). So i was thinking the only way to find out was to measure his to-scale bust to achieve this knowledge.

    I have always been interested in facial morphology, so naturally Maurice comes to mind when thinking about extreme facial measurements.

    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. First, It's great to meet you. The language your using makes me think you may be a medical professional. It would be my pleasure to assist you. I think I have something you're going to love. Give me a write at thefrenchangeldeathmask@gmail.com. I will introduce myself and I have something I think you're going to love. I found a book with all of Maurice's measurements and also location where tons of pictures were done of Maurice being measured. The combination of the two should get you where you want to be. I'd love to connect, just because it is a pleasure to meet someone of your level of interest. Respectfully, Tom.

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