Without question, the makeup arts in films are as old as cinema itself, dating back the entire 116-year history of the medium. While early makeups were applied by the actors who played in the first films, the craft eventually became in demand by film producers after the likes of Lon Chaney and Jack Dawn created indelible characters with their techniques. By the time of stalwart artists such as Jack Pierce and Cecil Holland, the art form of movie makeup was taken as seriously as cinematography and costume design as an essential part of the moviemaking process. When the legendary Westmore brothers took control of nearly every makeup department in Hollywood in the Golden Age of American films, their famous last name became a household word. Since that time, a select group of artists have elevated the craft to new heights with their pioneering techniques and onscreen developments, often working their magic on some of the top actors and actresses of the era.
Now, a new collection of portraits by Deverill Weekes highlights top names in makeup artistry over the past 50 years in a series of gallery exhibitions. The new gallery show debuted in June at the Pasadena Convention Center and will continue to show in exhibit and print form. Weekes’ images celebrate the greatest of the modern makeup artists by showcasing their faces – often unknown to the general public – with a series of unforgettable portraits. Taken from 1994 to 2011 spanning three countries, the photos represent all walks of artistry from “straight” makeup artists whose work often goes unnoticed on celebrity actors, to those who are celebrated in the effects side of the industry.
Artists featured in the show include Bill Corso (Oscar winner for Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events), Dick Smith (Oscar winner for Amadeus and upcoming Lifetime Achievement Award Winner from the Academy), Greg Cannom (three-time Oscar winner for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mrs. Doubtfire and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), the late John Chambers (creative makeup designer for the original Planet of the Apes which won an honorary Oscar as there was no official makeup category at that time), Kevin Haney (Oscar winner for Driving Miss Daisy), Michele Burke (two-time Oscar winner for Quest for Fire and the aforementioned Dracula), Michael Westmore (Oscar winner for Mask), Rick Baker (seven-time Oscar winner, most recently for The Wolfman), the late Stan Winston (four-time Oscar winner for both makeup and visual effects), Ve Neill (three-time Oscar winner for Beetlejuice, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Ed Wood), and many others, including people who primarily work in London, such as nonagenarian Stuart Freeborn (Star Wars).