A scene from, “A Ticket to Tomahawk”, used by The Stuberghs
Some History on The Stuberghs
In 1880, jacob and katherine (Kreusch) Spieles came from Germany and established the Wax Mannequin Manufacturing Company in New York City. They were one of the first such companies to provide wax mannequins for the new “ready to wear” clothing. Katherine Cecelia Spieles was born in this same year.
In 1900, Katherine Cecelia, who had been brought up working in her father’s business, moved to San Francisco at ago 20 to sreate a western branch to her father’s Wax Mannequin manufacturing company.
In 1903, on May 25th, she married Otto Stubergh and changed the name of the company to Stubergh Manufacturing Company. On Jun 23, 1911, they had a child and named her Katherine Marie Stubergh.
Katherine Marie spent her childood at Miss Tobin’s private school in San Francisco and then Virginia Lee Pride in Los Angeles, California. She studied dance under Theodore Kosloff, Lester Horton and Michio Ito to become a premier dancer.
In 1925, (Otto Stubergh had passed away 1923) at the request of thier personal friend, Sid Grauman, they came to Los Angeles to create wax figures of prominent motion picture stars to be displayed in the forecourt of Grauman’s Egyptian Theater as well as wax figures of non-descript chinese individuals for the foyer of his Chinese Theater. They closed the San Francisco officer in 1926 and permanently moved thier headquarters to L.A.
Due to the family’s three generations in mannequin manufacturing and having knowledge of all phases of the business, Katherine Marie, at age 21 abandoned her dancing career in order to concentrate efforts on sculpture and wax figure production. She had a partnership with her mother from 1932 to 1963 and were known as “The Stuberghs”.
Katherine Marie married her first husband, Hans B. Peterson, on February 12, 1943. She later met and married her second husband, Tom Keller, on April 7, 1962.
Katherine Marie has created portraits of nearly every prominent person in the motion picture inductry as well as contemporary and historical figures. She created the wounded soldiers in the railroad scene in “Gone With the Wind”, the Maureen O’Hara figure in Charles Laughton’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, the wax figures in “House of Wax”, the statue of Jerry Lewis and babiesin “Rock-A-Bye Baby”; and many others. She modeled the bronze plaque for the Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Memorail, and had many famous individuals “sit” for portrait busts such as Charles Spencer Chaplin, Albert Einstein, Mae West, John Brrymore and Mary Pickford to name a few.
She produced figures for all purposes, from crude dummies used in movie mob scenes to detailed natural likenesses, life-size or miniature, designed and executed special exhibits for fairs, expositions, ect. She created a great number of wax figures for the Movieland Wax Museum and the Hollywood Wax Museum, as well as the 3-D creation was display of Leonardo DaVinci’s painting of the “Last Supper” in Canta Cruz, California.
In 1968, she hired Henry Alvarez and mentored him in her family business. She retired in 1970 and from that point in time, Henry and Andrea Alvarez have carried the banner of creating quality wax models, for which Stuberghs, and now, Alvares Wax Models are known for.