Saturday, February 5, 2011

Welcome to "30 years of Academy Awards for Makeup"

The 2012 Academy Awards (awarded for film year 2011) will mark the 30th anniversary of "Oscar" awarded for "Outstanding Achievement in Makeup."

It seems to me this occasion deserves recognition!

Since the inception of the annual award for Makeup, there have been 29 winning films, 61 winning makeup artists, and 175 nominees.  In addition, prior to 1981, two "Honorary Academy Awards," were presented, bringing the total winners to 30.

The first of these "honorary" statuettes went to William Tuttle for "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao"in 1964. I remember seeing this film when I was eight-years-old. Years later, I marveled at the fact that all these characters were portrayed by the same actor, Tony Randall.

The 2nd golden prize went to John Chambers for "Planet of the Apes" in 1968. Once again, at the age of 12, I was astounded by the fantastic chimp, orangutan,and gorilla characters who upstaged all the humans, including Charlton Heston.

Finally, in 1981, the Academy inaugurated the first annual "Oscar" for Makeup. That year two films were nominated: "An American Werewolf in London" with up-and-comer Rick Baker at the helm; and "Heartbeeps" led by veteran makeup master, Stan Winston. This first coveted award went to Rick Baker, who has gone on to be the most celebrated makeup artist by the Academy (1984 nominated for "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan", 1987 winner for "Harry and the Hendersons", 1988 nominated for "Coming to America", 1994 winner for "Ed Wood", 1996 winner for "Nutty Professor", 1997 winner for "Men in Black", 1999 nominated for "Life", 2000 winner for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas", 2007 nominated for "Norbit", and 2010 nominated for "Wolfman").

Since 1981, makeup in film has advanced from the foam latex prosthetics makeups that distinguished "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao" and "Planet of the Apes" to the  makeups for the films nominated in 2011:
Barney's Version: 2010

The Way Back: 2010
The Wolfman: 2010

“Barney’s Version” makeup by Adrien Morot; “The Way Back” makeup by Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng; and “The Wolfman” makeup by Rick Baker and Dave Elsey.

Many of my college-aged theater makeup students have never heard of many of these movies. It is my hope this blog will serve as a educational spur to their curiosity and encourage them to find these movies on DVD and see these award worthy makeups from "back in the day."

Over the next year, I'll be looking back over the 30 year history of Oscar's "Outstanding Achievements in Makeup."  I will begin by taking a look at the "Honorary" awards for "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao" and "Planet of the Apes."  The week following the 2011 awards will begin the countdown to the 2012 awards with the films nominated in 1981: "An AmericanWerewolf in London" by the 1st Oscar winner Rick Baker; and "Heartbeeps" by nominee Stan Winston.

If you would like to follow me on this journey ... you are welcome to come along for the ride!

My best regards,

Gary Christensen


  1. Very nice, Gary! I will most definitely follow this blog.

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