Happy Jack Pierce day!
Oh, sure, it’s better known as Halloween…one of the most important geek holidays of the year: it’s the day that mainstreamers cosplay. 😉
However, I can pretty much guarantee you that you will see someone tonight honoring makeup artist Jack Pierce.
No, they probably won’t know it. 🙂
Pierce was the genius make-up artist in the Universal Horror cycle starting in the 1930s.
While Bela Lugosi reportedly did do his own make-up in 1931’s Dracula (he had been playing the part on stage), Pierce designed the widow’s peak hair…which you’ve probably seen drawn on with greasepaint. Pierce would go on to use the widow’s peak in other make-ups.
That Frankenstein’s monster with the flat head and electrodes in the neck? Pierce. The flat head, by the way, was an actual way the brain might have been removed.
The mummy with bandages all over? Again, Pierce.
The Bride of Frankenstein with the distinctive lightning-bolt style white stripes in the hair? Pierce.
The hairy-faced, black-nosed upright werewolf? Pierce (werewolves originally transformed into actual wolves).
Cool, huh? How would you like it if something you did creatively was still such a solid part of the popular culture more than three-quarters of a century later?
That’s likely not something Jack Pierce would have considered. Nostalgia, as we know it today, really didn’t happen until television got popular…and old movies appeared in our homes. That was especially true in 1957 when the Shock Theater package of Universal movies was released, leading to local horror TV hosts…and partially creating the “Monster Kids Generation” of Baby Boomers.
Thanks, Jack Pierce!
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