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11 November 2012

Turturro Turnover

This is a little bit unusual, but I just have to capture this odd little sync whilst it's fresh in my mind...

Turturro Mando-uke
Picture from:

A couple of weeks ago I learnt about a strange little instrument by the name of the Turnover. On one side is a mandolin and if you turn it over, on the other side is a ukulele. I can't imagine it's much fun to play, but it would certainly be a talking point. Be sure to check out Mugwumps Online for the full lowdown on the Turnover ukulele.

This week I happened across this picture:

The Doll Family
Picture from: Ukulele Freakshow (well worth a visit)

I thought this was a picture of children playing ukes and posted it on G+ for everyone's entertainment. It turns out that this is none other than the Doll Family, a family of performers from Germany who frequented the American circus circuit from the 20s through to the 50s (thanks to Midnight Corey for that lesson). In those days they were known as dwarves. These days I think the correct term might be little people. I'm not sure that this is much of an improvement to be honest.

What I learnt today is that this picture actually contains two Turturro Turnovers... a novelty act playing novelty instruments! Beautiful!

The Greatest Show on Earth, Paramount 1952
Picture from: Sound on Sight

The Doll Family were brothers and sisters: Gracie, Harry, Daisy and Tiny. As well as performing in the circus they also appeared in films. It was perhaps inevitable that they would all appear as Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. Daisy also appeared in The Greatest Show on Earth, a favourite film of blogging buddy Daz. I'm also slightly intrigued by the 1932 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, Freaks. There are some very strange photos knocking about on the internet for that.

Harry Earles & Olga Baclanova in Freaks, MGM 1932
Picture from:

"Their decades with the circus had provided them with a good living, and they bought a house in Sarasota, Florida, in which all four lived. The house was often featured in magazines, and was furnished with custom built, reduced size furniture. On the grounds of the house was a "Doll's House", which the family opened to the public. Each of the four remained living in the house until their deaths. Tiny, the last survivor, lived there for many years before dying, following a long illness." ~ Wikipedia

I just happen to have a brother living in Sarasota who is a midget.

Picture from:


  1. Nice little post KU.-)

    Talking above of movies and sync,I just saw "Seven Psychopaths"

    on the weekend (good'd like it...I think) and the Tarantino movie "Django Unchained"

    trailer was previewed before "Seven Psychopaths"

    The first picture in your post above comes from the website.

    " Welcome to This website is dedicated to the musical legacy of the great Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910-1953). Django Reinhardt pioneered the use of the guitar in jazz and was arguably the first great jazz guitarist. "

  2. It would be good to hear some covers of "Bachman Turner Overdrive" songs like these

    on the Turnover.-)

  3. I love those ukes at Ukulele Freakshow,especially the
    Yowl-A-Lele and the cyclops uke.
    I also like how Ukulele Dick is dressed as a member of DEVO,as they are playing at my local winery in December with "The Church" and "Simple Minds".
    Hopefully I can make it.

  4. That is a great page Daz. It's almost a ukulele sync page! I sense you're enjoying yourself here...

  5. Also on the Django topic,another blogger I like "Dedroidify",did a post called -
    "Django Django - Default"

  6. Very good. Are these "Hipsters"?

  7. RE:
    "Very good. Are these "Hipsters"?"

    I don't know who they are,that's the first time that I have ever seen them.

  8. We're a right bloody pair aren't we! Hipsters are the biggest thing in America at the moment and neither of us know what they are! Oh well, I'm sure we'll get over it...

  9. If you're interested in Harry Earles (on top of his appearance in the great movie Freaks), also check out The Unholy Three -- the 1925 original and the 1930 remake -- both starring Lon Chaney Sr. and Earles.

  10. This is getting more and more interesting! Thanks for the tip Corey.

  11. A Turturro Turnoer walked into my guitar shop today. No, that's not the set-up to a musical joke. I really have one here at Mighty Fine Guitars in bucolic Lafayette, CA. I'm looking around the Interwebs to see how to price this little oddity. Any idears?

  12. That sounds interesting Steve. Can you stick up any photos that I can add to this post? I've been doing some searching about (probably the same one you've been doing) and I've seen someone get a do-up for around $90. I'm only guessing here, but I wouldn't think that working examples would go for anything more than $500. There is one for sale at the moment on ebay asking $1200, but I reckon they're dreaming. I'd want an original Harry Earles signature on it for that ;-)