Some interesting artifacts for you guys... about a hundred years ago:
"animal impersonators" / more here!
An inverview with Charles Lauri. [mp3]
[from PeoplePlay UK]
'My first appearance as pussy was made some thirty years ago in Birmingham. Even as a child I was devoted to animals and always took particular note of their ways and doings; still a considerable time elapsed before I again thought of acting an animal. All London was running to see a performing monkey called Pongo. I said to myself I am sure that I could do as well as that Monkey. Well I went to the zoo and spent hours in the Monkey House watching the creatures and I believe learning their language.
It was no easy matter to get a proper skin or costume made; you see what is wanted when impersonating an animal is really a wig for the body and it was difficult to make anyone understand that, so I not only designed but practically made my first skins. Each hair had to be put in separately, and after many trials I found that brown or grey wool was the best material to use on the foundation. Then we had to invent the head mask for the monkey. At last we hit on a brown leather one and as for the big eyebrows which on being worked up and down produce the peculiar grimaces which are so characteristic of monkey faces, I managed to make them workable by means of brown threads reaching down to and fastened on the coat.
My monkey face requires more makeup than any other beast character I have ever played.
I have also been a bear, a wolf, an ostrich, a kangaroo, a white poodle etc. But I find that the public really prefers domestic animals – a cat, a dog, and monkey are unfailing favourites. You see people like to watch the thing with which they are already familiar and there is literally always something new to see and discover about animals. I need hardly say that I am an entire believer in studying from life. When getting my poodle part I had one always with me at home and it was from him that I learnt nearly all my tricks.
We've come a long way. ^___^