If you have been keeping watch, you know that I am proud to be one the many fine artists whose work is on display in the “Art of the Apes” show at Creature Features in Burbank. My official entry, “Take your Stinking Paws off my Heart”, took me a while to complete. Complete it I did though, and just in the nick of time.
Being a former Makeup Effects Artist, it was important to me that I be a part of this show. Like just about every other FX artist I know, “Planet of the Apes” was a major sign post along the weird route that led us to Hollywood and the business of “Show”. The Ape makeups that John Chambers and his team of artists created for that film and the subsequent sequels burned themselves into my brain. So, when the opportunity arose to have some fun with the whole concept, I jumped at the chance. I am proud of my contribution. In a different show that have been enough, but my makeup roots were calling out to me, demanding I do one more painting.
Chambers is a legend in the Makeup field. He came to Hollywood from the Military where he was a Medical Technician, creating prosthetic devices for disabled veterans. His expertise with rubber and plastic compounds, mold making and fabrication techniques, as well as being a fast worker, would come to serve him well in Hollywood.
It was in television that Chambers would first make his mark. He contributed masks, props and makeups to shows such as “The Outer Limits”, “Mission Impossible”, “Lost in Space” and many more. He even created Spock’s pointed Vulcan ears for “Star Trek”. Given that he was fast and reliable, Chambers was sought after by other makeup artists to create prosthetics for their various projects. He never received credit for these projects, but the money was particularly good.
Chambers came to be involved in what would be the defining film of his career, “Planet of the Apes”, after a short test film shot as a proof of concept won the film it’s green light. In the test, an out-of-the-kit Orangutan makeup was done on Edward G. Robinson by Fox Studio Makeup Head Ben Nye. While the makeup showed that serious talking apes were viable, the powers that be knew a more refined solution would be needed. Chamber’s incredible technical prowess would end up creating cinema history and earn him the first ever Academy Award for Makeup.
This is my humble tribute to him.
Thanks for looking!