DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME YOU WATCHED FRANKENSTEIN AS A LITTLE CHILD, AND HOW AWESTRUCK  YOU WERE  BY THE MONSTER?  OR THE FIRST TIME YOU SAW THE MUMMY COME TO LIFE, OR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WOLFMAN? SURELY THE FANTASIA MINDS OF THE YOUTHFULL AND IMAGINATIVE ALLOWED ONE TO EASILY BELIEVE WHAT WE WERE SEEING WAS REAL.  THE LASTING IMAGES WE TOOK FROM THOSE EXPERIENCES IS THE DIRECT RESULT OF THE WORK OF ONE MAN.   

THE LEGENDARY JACK PIERCE.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS MAKE-UP MASTER EXTRAORDINAIRE PIERCE CREATED ALL THE GREAT CLASSIC UNIVERSAL HORROR MONSTERS.


KARLOFF, CHANEY JR., LUGOSI, STRANGE...PIERCE  TRANSFORMED THEM ALL INTO THE MONSTERS WE'VE COME TO LOVE, BUILDING A BUDDING 'FIENDSHIP' TO COUNTLESS THOUSANDS.

 

BEGINNING HIS TRADE IN 1910, PIERCE JOINED UNIVERSAL STUDIOS SIXTEEN YEARS LATER, BECOMING 'HEAD MAN' IN 1931 AT THE DAWN OF THE CLASSICS, AND HE DIDN'T DISAPPOINT; CREATING VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE CLASSIC UNIVERSAL MONSTERS FROM 1931 THRU 1944.

 

                  

IN A RARE INTERVIEW WITH MONSTER MANIA, PIERCE STATED THAT AMONG ALL OF THE LEGENDS HE WORKED WITH, BORIS KARLOFF WAS BY FAR THE MOST PROFESSIONAL AND FRIENDLY.
 

 

     
               

HE DIDN'T HAVE AS MANY NICE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT LUGOSI OR  CHANEY JR.  WHO'S WOLFMAN MAKE-UP TOOK ABOUT 2 AND A HALF HOURS.

CHANEY ALSO HAD TO UNDERGO WHAT I'M SURE WAS AN EXCRUCIATING EXERCISE IN SUFFERING WHEN HE WAS CAKED UP FOR HIS FAMOUS GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN RESURRECTION SCENE.

 

 

PROCLAIMED BY JACK PIERCE TO BE HIS MOST INSPIRATIONAL AND FULFILLING WORK, THE MUMMY TOOK A TOTAL OF EIGHT HOURS TO PREPARE. EVERY SINGLE DAY  KARLOFF SAT IN THE MASTERS CHAIR FOR EIGHT SOLID HOURS IN ORDER TO PREPARE FOR THE DAYS SHOOTING. 

NATURALLY, KARLOFF WAS ALWAYS THE CONSUMMATE PROFESSIONAL, NARY A COMPLAINT TOWARD THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS METAMORPHASIS INTO KHARIS.

PERHAPS YOU WOULD BE SUPRISED TO LEARN THAT IT WAS BELA LUGOSI  WHO WAS ORIGINALLY SLATED TO PORTRAY THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER IN THE 1931 CLASSIC, BUT HE HAD TOO MANY OF HIS OWN IDEAS ABOUT HOW THE MONSTER SHOULD LOOK, AND WAS UNBENDING, THUS LOSING THE PART.  HE WOULD EVENTUALLY GET HIS CHANCE TO DON THE FLAT-TOP IN FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN SEEN HERE WITH LON CHANEY JR. KIND OF A BLESSING IN DISGUISE AS LUGOSI'S MONSTER IS RUMOURED TO HAVE HAD MORE OF A 'GOLEM' APPEAL. HARD TO IMAGINE THE MONSTER WITHOUT THE FLAT-TOP, ISN'T IT?

PIERCE SPENT OVER FOUR MONTHS ON LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF  NOT ONLY SKETCHES BUT SCULPTURES OF WHAT HE INVISIONED THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER SHOULD LOOK LIKE. 

IT WOULD BE EVERY MONSTER FANS DREAM TO BE ABLE TO SEE FIRST HAND SOME OF THOSE VISIONS, AND HOW HE CAME TO WHAT EVENTUALLY WOULD BE ARGUABLY ONE OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE CREATIONS EVER.

HIS NOW WELL KNOWN AND UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED BRILLIANCE IS SEEN UNDERWAY, HERE TO THE RIGHT, AS KARLOFF BECOMES FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER.

DURING A MAKE UP SESSION NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE MONSTER GENRE, PIERCE WAS WORKING ON ACTOR GLENN STRANGE WHEN THE ACTOR NOTICED PIERCE LOOKING AT HIM RATHER CLOSELY. PIERCE ASKED THE ACTOR TO COME BACK THAT NIGHT AND HE'D PAY HIM TWENTY FIVE BUCKS. NOT HAVING A CLUE TO WHAT HE HAD IN MIND, BUT BEING CURIOUS, STRANGE AGREED.

COVERING ALL MIRRORS IN HIS STUDIO, STRANGE HAD NO IDEA HE WAS IN THE THROWS OF BECOMING THE FINAL FLAT-HEAD. IT IS THIS VERSION OF THE MONSTER THAT WAS USED PREDOMINANTLY IN THE SIXTY'S BY MATTEL AND AURORA.  HARD TO BELIEVE THIS IS THE SAME ACTOR WHO TENDED BAR ON THE TV CLASSIC GUNSMOKE.

LIKE MANY FANS OF THE GENRE, IT WASN'T UNTIL FORRY ACKERMAN OF 'FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND' SHOWCASED THIS MANS AMAZING CONTRIBUTION THAT I EVEN LEARNED WHO JACK PIERCE WAS.  MANY GREAT THANKS TO FORREST J FOR HIS INTUITIVE INSIGHT TO WHAT IS REALLY COOL.

JACK WAS ASKED TO STREAMLINE THE MAKE UP PROCESS BY STUDIO EXECS WHO FOUND HIS CREATIONS TOO COSTLY TO CONTINUE - MONEY AND TIME WISE.  PIERCE REFUSED AND WAS REPLACED BY BUD WESTMORE, LATEX MASTER, WHO CUT THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS IN HALF.

IN THE END, PIERCE SHOWED HIMSELF TO BE A TRUE VISIONARY, WITH HIS BRILLIANT MIND CREATING WHAT HAS NOW BECOME ICONIC IN POP CULTURE.   JACK PIERCE, CREATOR OF THE MASTERS OF HORROR.