When Jack Pierce died in 1968, few in the movie industry seemed to take note of his passing. As Frank Taylor wrote in the LOS ANGELES TIMES, only 24 mourners attended his funeral. But a small cadre of Pierce’s fans led, of course, by Forrest J. Ackerman worked valiantly to keep alive the memory of his magnificent makeup achievements. Today, Jack Pierce is a revered figure among horror film fans as the creative genius behind the iconic Universal Studios monsters of the 1930s and 1940s. The Cinema Makeup School in Los Angeles honored him on May 30 with the dedication of the Jack Pierce Memorial Gallery for Makeup and Character Arts.
The Gallery is a sight to behold! In a beautifully appointed room just off the entrance to the school office, are some amazing examples of work by teachers and alumni from the Cinema Makeup School. Two of Joel Harlow’s mermaids from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN occupy a platform in the center of the gallery. Two masks created by contestants in SyFy television’s FACE OFF makeup show are there, as well as a beautiful sculpture of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, standing about three feet tall. A sample of Lee Joyner’s makeup for the Jack Pierce character in the Pierce tribute stage play is featured.
The highlights of the gallery for me were two pieces by Brent Armstrong. The first is a stunning head and shoulders likeness of Karloff as the Mummy, with one of his wrappings supporting him on a column with hieroglyphics printed on the sides. The second is a fantastic bust of Jack Pierce, with images of his various creations engraved in the sides of the sculpture. The bust’s stand slowly rotates so the viewer may see all the monstrous faces adorning the work. It is a truly wonderful piece of art. If you are in the Los Angeles area, a visit to the school’s gallery is well worth your time.
|Brent Armstrong's The Mummy sculpt.|
|Jack Pierce bust by Brent Armstrong.|
|Positive cast of Jack Pierce that makeup appliances were pulled from for the Scott Essman-produced film tribute to Pierce.|
|Scott Essman signing autographs.|