WOODLAND HILLS, CA.--Oscar-winning makeup pioneer John Chambers, regarded by many as the father of modern cinema make-up, died here August 25, 2001, from complications related to diabetes. He was 78.
Chambers did everything from put the pointy ears on Mr. Spock for TVâÄôs "Star Trek" to making monkeys out of actors for the original "Planet of the Apes" movie series. MSTies may remember his work in episode 420- THE HUMAN DUPLICATORS.
Born in Chicago in 1922, he was trained as a commercial artist and designed jewelry and exhibited as a sculptor before World War II, in which he served as a medical technician. He came to Hollywood only after years of difficult but important work with disfigured war veterans, creating artificial ears, noses and even whole faces for them. Much of his work for the movie industry was done in a lab he created in his Burbank garage, a garage that was visited by stars such as Lana Turner, Marlon Brando and Mickey Rooney.
When he worked on "Planet of the Apes'' in the 1960s, he developed a new type of foam rubber that was easier to work with than the material commonly used at the time. He also created facial appliances that could be attached to actors' faces to form primate features. For his efforts he became only the second makeup artist to receive an honorary Academy Award, which was presented to him by a chimpanzee, in a tuxedo.
During his three-decade career, Chambers also worked on TV shows including "The Outer Limits," "The Munsters," "Lost in Space" and "Mission Impossible." He was also occasionally tapped to appear in films, usually in small walk-on roles.
When movie makers were faced with a particularly daunting make-up challenge, they would often turn to Chambers, who worked uncredited on a number of films, including "The Boston Strangler" (1968) and "A Man Called Horse" (1970).