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2000/66/1 Wig, human hair / net, used by Annette Kellerman, made by George Anton, USA / Germany 1910-1914. Click to enlarge.

Wig used by Annette Kellerman

Made by Anton, George in Berlin, Germany, 1914.

This wig is part of a substantial collection of costumes and props used by Annette Kellerman (1886-1975). She became an international celebrity as an endurance swimmer, an entertainer of the vaudeville stage and a star of American silent films. She played a key role in popularising the one-piece swimsuit for women. Born in Sydney, Kellerman took up swimming as a child to strengthen her semi-crippled legs. She became a champion, setting a New South Wales record for the 100 yards and a world reco...


Object No.


Object Statement

Wig, human hair / net, used by Annette Kellerman, made by George Anton, USA / Germany 1910-1914

Physical Description

Long wig with centre part made of human hair dyed strawberry blonde, sewn to beige coloured netting. Inscription on label attached to net: 'George Anton, Berlin, Germany'. Attached to wig is a paper label with inscription: 'Annette's mermaid wig worn in Neptune's Daughter, 1915, Queen of the Sea, A Daughter of the Gods 1917, New York Hippodrome, 1917 and all theatre and mermaid productions all over the USA, Europe and elsewhere from 1915-1940s (M. Wooster 1975)'.



250 mm



This wig was made by George Anton, Berlin, Germany.



It is thought that Annette Kellerman wore this wig in the 1914 film 'Neptune's Daughter' and continued to wear it on stage until the 1940s.

Annette Kellerman kept a large collection of theatrical and aquatic memorabilia from her long career. In 1975, while living in retirement on the Gold Coast, she saw a segment on ABC-TV's 'This Day Tonight' about the recently created performing arts archive at the Sydney Opera House. Having learnt to swim at Cavill's Baths in Farm Cove, near where the Opera House now stands, she decided this was the appropriate repository for her collection. She asked her sister Marcelle to ring the Opera House to make an offer of donation. Marcelle spoke to Barbara Firth, a member of the Ladies Committee of the Sydney Opera House Appeal Fund and an honorary coordinator of the performing arts archive. Frank Barnes, the Opera House's general manager, agreed that the opportunity to acquire the collection should not be missed. In September 1975 Barbara Firth spent five days on the Gold Coast with Annette Kellerman and took possession of the entire collection on behalf of the Opera House. A furniture van was needed to transport the seven large cabin trunks that held the large collection. Within weeks Kellerman had passed away, on 6 November 1975.

In the late 1990s the objects in the Annette Kellerman collection were transferred from the Dennis Wolanski Library and Archive of Performing Arts at the Sydney Opera House, to the Powerhouse Museum. The collection's paper material, including photographs, was transferred to the State Library of New South Wales. Barbara Firth's biography of Kellerman, written with Emily Gibson and titled 'The Original Million Dollar Mermaid' was published by Allen & Unwin in 2005.


Credit Line

Gift of the Dennis Wolanski Library, Sydney Opera House, 2000

Acquisition Date

24 May 2000

Cite this Object


Wig used by Annette Kellerman 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 February 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Wig used by Annette Kellerman |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 February 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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