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Lights, camera, plastics—part 7

The black plastic comb that was in the back pocket of every rebel with or without a cause in the 1950s made a cameo appearance in 1978's Grease. One scene, in particular, stands out: When an episode of male bonding between John Travolta and one of his acolytes gets a little uncomfortable, they whip out their combs and aggressively coiffe their hair.

Norbert Sparrow

December 11, 2014

1 Min Read
Lights, camera, plastics—part 7

The black plastic comb that was in the back pocket of every rebel with or without a cause in the 1950s made a cameo appearance in 1978's Grease. One scene, in particular, stands out: When an episode of male bonding between John Travolta and one of his acolytes gets a little uncomfortable, they whip out their combs and aggressively coiffe their hair.

In her book, Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, Susan Freinkel writes that for most of history, "combs were made of almost any material humans had at hand . . . but in the late 19th century that panoply of possibilities began to fall away with the arrival of a totally new kind of material—celluloid, the first man-made plastic."

Celluloid-based combs could not withstand the double whammy of Bakelite, the first truly synthetic plastic, followed by more pliable plastics, and injection molding, however, and a mid-century legend was born.

Next slide  From 1958: Parlez-vous plastique?

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About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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