Hollywood Lost and Found
Movie Props and Artifacts
"The Wolf Man"
Wolf's-head Cane Ornament
Bob Burns is the custodian of one of the largest and most impressive collections of movie props and memorabilia anywhere, and the piece that began his museum is one of the most historic: the wolf's-head cane ornament from "The Wolf Man." In the 1941 Universal Classic, Sir John Talbot (played by Claude Rains) uses his cane to kill the werewolf, who he discovers is his own son - Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.).
Made of cast rubber and painted silver, the ornament was created by Ellis Berman, a special effects technician who also worked on "The Ghost of Frankenstein" (1942).
The story of how this item became part of Bob Burns' collection is told in his book, "It Came from Bob's Basement." Ellis Berman's son was a friend and classmate of Bob's, and they would often hang out at Ellis' shop after school to watch him work. The wolf's-head ornament was on a shelf in the office there, and as Bob says in his book, "I spent many, many afternoons quietly staring at it. One day (Ellis) said to me, 'You really like that thing, don't you?' Like it? I loved that cane head; it was a real, physical object that had actually been used in one of my favorite movies. 'It's yours. Go ahead and take it,' he said. I thought I would burst as I took it home to put in a place of honor. Thus began my lifelong occupation as custodian of treasures from sci-fi and monster movies."
The wolf's-head cane ornament from "The Wolf Man" remains to this day in the private collection of Bob Burns.
18 January 2003
Burns, Bob, and John Michlig. It Came From Bob's Basement! San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000.
Official Bob Burns Website, The. <http://bobburns.mycottage.com>
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