Born: Sept. 12, 1923 Died: Aug. 25th, 2001
All horror fans know the names of Dick Smith, Tom Savini, Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, and quite a few others that became famous in the 70’s and 80’s. But what about John Chambers?
Chambers is probably best known for his creation of the makeup effects used to turn Roddy McDowell and other actors into ape-creatures in The Planet of the Apes. He also worked on horror films like SSSSSSS (1973), Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Island of Dr. Moreau (1977), and even Halloween II (1981). This is the man responsible for creating Spock’s ears for the original TV pilot! He was such a talented and creative artists that he won an honorary Oscar at the Academy Awards in 1969. He was also the first makeup artist to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
But if that wasn’t enough, he also did a few things that shows not only his talent, but his humanity. Even before getting into movies, he worked at the Veteran’s Hospital creating prosthetic limbs for wounded soldiers. He also created other artificial parts, like noses, ears, and some entire faces, to help those soldiers who came back scared or deformed by the horrors of combat.
Plus, there was this little thing he did when he worked with the CIA as a contractor, first helping agents develop their own “disguise kits”, but then later in 1980, he was enlisted by the CIA to help with the rescue of six American embassy personnel who were hiding in the residence of the Canadian ambassador during the Iran hostage crisis. So they set up a fake movie production, with ads in Variety, big Hollywood parties, and everything, to make a science fiction film called Argo. Starting to sound familiar? The rescue was successful and in 2012, the story was made into a film, starring and directed by Ben Affleck. In the film, Chambers is played by John Goodman.
Just goes to show you that there is much more to some of these guys that were creating monsters and creatures for the movies.