Warts and Popular Culture

Image Above: The archetypal witch of western culture is often associated with warts.

Margaret Hamilton classically portrayed the iconic Western idea of an evil witch in her role as the Wicked Witch of the West in Warner Brother’s 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz”. No one can miss those witchy warts on her face!

Get your own plastic wart prosthetics to attach to your face for next Halloween!


“All is Fair in Love and Warts”

He proclaimed she had given him warts
Of the most ignominious sorts
Said that her papilloma
Had entered his soma
And the issue was clearer than quartz

She denies having given him warts
Says that “His allegation distorts.
It’s incredibly plain
That they differ by strain
As is shown in my doctor’s reports.”

And despite his assertion of torts
On the issue of giving him warts,
She was quickly acquitted
Of having transmitted
(And upheld in the lowest of courts.)

         An original poem by Dr. Robert David Siegel


A tribute to Dr. Siegel— whose wit and passion for viruses has inspired us all.


Regarding the origin of the phrase, “Warts and All”

Image above: The portrait of Lord Oliver Cromwell painted by Sir Peter Lely

            Supposedly the phrase “warts and all” derives from an anecdote regarding artist Sir Peter Lely who painted a portrait of Lord Oliver Cromwell. The phrase that roughly means “the entire thing— not hiding anything— all encompassing” was supposedly uttered by Lord Oliver Cromwell to the painter Lely when he posed for a portrait. Back in the 17th century, the portrait painters dramatically modified the likeness of their subjects so as to flatter their subject. We know from a death mask taken of Cromwell that Lely depicted him accurately (in a manner that would suggest he was specifically asked to, against the vogue of the times). The phrase apparently first appears in “Horace Walpole's Anecdotes of painting in England, with some account of the principal artists” which was published in 1763.


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