April 16, 1850: Died, Marie Tussaud. She was close to the French Royal Family, and when the Reign of Terror came around, her head nearly rolled, as well. In order to prove her loyalty to the new regime, she made death masks of some of the guillotine's victims, including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Marat, and Robespierre. After an eventful life, Tussaud died quietly in her sleep at the age of 88.
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Madame Tussaud at age 42. She is said to have helped the cult of celebrity with her waxworks of the famous at the time, and with the founding of her waxworks museum. Marie Tussaud made her first wax figure—Jean Jacques Rousseau—at the age of 17, and followed that with Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. She was also employed during the French Revolution in the gruesome task of making death masks of the victims of the guillotine.
Marie Tussaud was arrested and taken to the Bastille for being a royalist supporter. Her head was shaven, a custom before being taken to the guillotine, but was pardoned. She was forced to do not only one of the more curious acts in history, but one of the most morbid. She was employed to make death masks. The first were of course the most obvious: Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.