Jack P Pierce b Janus Piccoulas Greece May d July

Jack P. Pierce (also known as Jack Pearce or Jack Piccolo) invented the iconic images of Frankenstein, Dracula, the Werewolf, the Mummy, and the Invisible Man during his twenty-one years at Universal Studios. Pierce emigrated to the United States, hoping to be a baseball player, but instead he found itinerant jobs as a nickelodeon manager, cameraman, actor, and stuntman. He entered the world of film makeup in 1910, working for various independent companies until the early 1920s, when he went to Vitagraph and then Fox. In 1926 he came to Universal and in 1928 became its head of makeup when Carl Laemmle Jr. took over the studio.

Pierce's first notable design was the silhouette for Bela Lugosi's Dracula in Tod Browning's Dracula (1931). Pierce's genius flourished on James Whale's 1931 version of Frankenstein, with Boris Karloff in the lead. For Karloff he made, arguably, the most famous face in cinema. Departing from previous monkeylike Frankenstein depictions (as in Thomas Edison's 1910 Frankenstein), Pierce imagined what a nineteenth-century scientist might have created. For months he made sketches and models while researching surgical procedures and electrical experiments of the time. It took Pierce four hours a day to apply Karloff's makeup, layering his head with padding, greasepaint, cotton, and collodian (a solvent that hardens into a shiny elastic), coloring it blue-green to photograph as dead gray, then covering it in paste and baking it to make a flaky appearance. Karloff's forty-pound costume (seventy including the cement shoes) was also made by Pierce. The effect was so successful, the opening credits did not include Karloff's name, only that The Monster was acted by "?'' trying to give the impression that perhaps the monster was not an actor but real. The Mummy, also played by Karloff, in Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932), was Pierce's favorite. His research of Egyptian embalming and processes of decay brought him to make a crepelike, parchment skin that took eight hours a day to apply.

Pierce was an impeccable example of collaboration with the cinematographer, making lighting integral to his monsters' effect. Light on the Frankenstein visage, with its square head, ridged forehead, and heavy jawline, gave the monster's menace a necessary pathos. Lighting also malevolently animated the Mummy's crinkled skin.

Having never been given a contract, he was fired in 1947 when Universal downsized. Despite the 1950s surge in science-fiction subjects, Pierce never worked again on projects requiring his true ingenuity, only on low-budget films and television programs like Mister Ed (1961-1966). Although he died virtually forgotten in 1968, appreciation of Pierce's work was renewed in the first years of the twenty-first century with a DVD tribute, Jack Pierce: The Man Behind the Monsters (2002).


Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)


Pierce, Jack. Interview: http://www.hotad.com/

monstermania/jackpierce (accessed 8 April 2006).

Drake Stutesman by Kalen Hoyle in Boys Don't Cry (1999), made memorable attempts in films with political undertones.

From the outset, some lasting relationships have existed between stars or directors and their makeup artists. Maurice Seiderman (1907-1989), another Russian with a background in wigmaking, worked with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), and Touch of Evil (1958). Seiderman invented techniques for aging the Kane character and other principles, involving three-dimensional casts, which were painted in layers to achieve a striking realism. The director Clive Barker has often had FX makeup artist Bob Keen create his unusual villains, such as Pinhead in Hellraiser (1987). Chris Walas developed much of David Cronenberg's scare makeup and special effects (Scanners, 1981, and The Fly, 1986) and Rob Bottin, whose talents run from science fiction to the historical, has collaborated with John Carpenter (The Thing, 1982, and The Fog, 1980).

Modern FX—using materials such as latex, gelatine, and mechanization—can be traced to the ingenuities of Lon Chaney in the 1920s and those of Jack P. Pierce

Jack Pierce (left) and assistant putting makeup on Boris Karlofffor Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931). everett collection. reproduced by permission.

Jack Pierce (left) and assistant putting makeup on Boris Karlofffor Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931). everett collection. reproduced by permission.

(1889-1968), who in the 1930s devised prototypical monsters in Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), and The Werewolf of London (1935) for Universal Studios. Pierce and Chaney not only defined the look of their monsters forever but made makeup a box-office draw.

The advent of violent films in the 1960s, including Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Wild Bunch (1969), led the way for the 1970s taste in not-for-the-squeamish horror, while monkey men in films like Planet of the Apes (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Star Wars (1977) brought a resurgence of the FX monster. With the popularity of special effects films, most late-twentieth-century FX makeup artists have made specialty careers. Beginning in television (for serials like Dark Shadows, 1966-1971), Dick Smith (b. 1922) changed prosthetic makeup forever when, to enable the actor greater mobility, he broke down the basic "mask" into components (nose, chin, eyes) with his groundbreaking work on Little Big Man (1970), where a young Dustin Hoffman ages into a very old man, and The Exorcist (1973). Rick Baker won the first Oscar® for Best Makeup for his American Werewolf in London (1981), considered another makeup landmark. His range of work is wide, from the hairstyles in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) to the aging of Cicely Tyson into a one-hundred-year-old woman in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), but he specializes in apelike beings. Stan Winston, who has a star on Hollywood Boulevard, is a master of mechanized human creatures such as the leads in The Terminator (1984) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). Tom Savini is known as the "King of Splatter'' for his work on bloody films such as Martin

(1977), Friday the 13th (1980), and Dawn of the Dead (2004).

The latest technological shift in the movie industry, which considerably affects makeup, is digital film. The digital enhancement process can do what was once the provenance of the makeup artist—manipulation of the actor's skin color, texture, and every other aspect of his or her experience. It remains to be seen, though, to what extent makeup's hands-on ability to camouflage, identify, and beautify will be superceded by this technology.

see also Production Process; Special Effects; Technology further reading

Chierichetti, David. ''Make A Face.'' Film Comment 14, no. 6 (November-December 1978): 34-37.

Cripps, Thomas. Slow Fade to Black: The Negro in American Film, 1900-1942. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Finch, Christopher, and Linda Rosenkrantz. Gone Hollywood: The Movie Colony in the Golden Age. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1997.

Gambill, Norman. ''Making Up Kane.'' Film Comment 14, no. 6 (November-December 1978): 42-45.

Shreier, Sandy. Hollywood Dressed and Undressed: A Century of Cinema Style. New York: Rizzoli, 1998.

Timpone, Anthony. Men, Make Up, and Monsters: Hollywood's Masters of Illusion and FX. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1996.

Westmore, Frank, and Muriel Davidson. The Westmores of Hollywood. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1976.

Drake Stutesman

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