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Shell Shocked: Remembering the Fuller Brush Man

By Staff | Aug 8, 2018

Art Stevens

When was the last time a Fuller Brush Man rang your doorbell and displayed his suitcase of brushes? I have fond memories of the Fuller Brush man ringing my doorbell when I was a kid and being invited in for a glass of lemonade by my mom.

My mom loved Fuller brushes. They were sturdy, elegant and long lasting. When I was a teenager my mom bought a Fuller hair brush for me. I still have it after all these years and am constantly astonished how it’s held up. It hasn’t lost a single strand of brush and the wooden finish on it looks brand new. I will never part with it.

We don’t seem to have any Fuller Brush men ringing our doorbells in Sanibel anymore. I wondered if the company still exists so I looked it up on Google. The company does indeed exist and it still has thousands of Fuller Brush men ringing doorbells throughout the country. And the company has expanded its product line by adding a number of household items to its traditional line of brushes.

I plan to petition Fuller to send some of its brush men to Sanibel. I could always use a new brush. What would we do without brushes? They groom our hair, clean our furniture, shed fur from our pets and remove dirt from our floors. To brush or not to brush. That is the question.

In 1948 Red Skelton starred in “The Fuller Brush Man.” If you could forgive a movie that was so blatantly commercial you would find a lot of humor in Skelton’s antics. And in 1950 another major star made a sequel. Lucille Ball played “The Fuller Brush Lady.” I’d like to stream that one if it’s available on Netflix.

Did you know that famed evangelist Billy Graham was a successful Fuller Brush Man in his younger days? And in 1933 in Walt Disney’s animated feature “The Three Little Pigs,” the big bad wolf disguised himself as a Fuller Brush Man to try to get the pigs to let him into their house. I wouldn’t want Sanibel alligators to get that idea into their heads. Can you imagine an alligator pretending to be a Fuller Brush Man making the rounds of Sanibel homes?

Fuller Brush Company is alive and well after all these years. It is more than 100 years old. There’s a rumor floating around Hollywood that Harrison Ford has agreed to star in a new movie called “Indiana Jones Meets the Fuller Brush Man.” Who do you see playing the Fuller Brush Man?

But the real question is are hair brushes as valued today as they were 50 years ago? My answer would be a resounding yes. And don’t ask me to loan you my Fuller brush. You’ll get no for an answer.