Even though this site is about the Universal Monsters, we must never forget that if it wasn't for Jack Pierce, we might not have our favorite fiends. Back in the days of silent movies, alotof the actors did their own makeup. The most famous of course was Lon Chaney Sr. The Man Of A Thousand Faces himself. As time went on and the silents faded into history, more and more talking pictures were being made and after awhile actors were no longer allowed to do their own makeup. If there was ever a sucessor to Lon Chaney Sr. 's throne it was Jack Pierce!
He was a true perfectionist. He did not believe in rubber appliances he preferred to apply makeup to the actors faces for a more realistic look and for better facial expressions. When he was hired to do the Frankenstein makeup, he was just too busy during the day so he invited Karloff to the makeup lab at night when thye could have the whole place to themselves to experiment on the makeup and to keep it a secret. They even kept Karloff face hidden until it first appeared on camera in the film. Pretty scary stuff for its time. He spent a majority of his career at Universal (luckily for us) He went on to create some of the most memorable characters of our time, Frankenstein, Wolfman, The Mummy (both Im Ho Tep and Kharis) Without a doubt the actors went through some tough hours in the makeup chair but they should be assured that was worth it. In the 50's and the beginning of the sci-fi era, the powers that be at Universal decided that Jack Pierce's techniques were becoming outdated and obsolete and time consuming for the actors and the production crews so the unceremoniously ousted him and he was replaced with Bud Westmore. Westmore was more used to working with rubber appliances mixed with makeup. I personally don't feel it had the same effect. Notice the diffrences in the makeup for the Wolfman in the Pierce versions and Westmores version in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. No offence intended but I much prefer Jacks work. It did look more realistic. On of Jacks last makeup jobs was for the tv show Mr. ED. I liked the show but it was a far cry from his past achievements. When he passed away there were only 24 people at the funeral. Hollywood failed to honor him properly. A nice story that came from this sad occasion was that Boris Karloff found out Jack had passed on, even though he could not attend because he was in England, he sent his last respects in the form of a wreath of flowers. Boris Karloff did not forget Jack and his achievements and neither will we.