Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bill Tuttle has died.

William J. Tuttle, who as head of the makeup department at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios enhanced the looks of some of Hollywood's most beautiful people and helped design the creepy, human-devouring Morlocks in "The Time Machine," died July 27 at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He was 95. No cause of death was reported.

Mr. Tuttle's career encompassed more than 300 films, as well as the transition from black and white to Technicolor, a development he called murder, because the intense light needed for the process could melt layers of makeup. As a young man, he worked on the early Technicolor classic "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) with Judy Garland.

He was MGM's makeup chief from 1950 to 1970. For his work on "7 Faces of Dr. Lao" (1964), starring Tony Randall as a cunning Chinese medicine show impresario with many identities, he was the first in his profession to win an Academy Award. An Oscar category recognizing makeup skill did not begin on a regular basis until 1981. After leaving MGM, he became a freelance makeup artist, working on such features as Mel Brooks's "Young Frankenstein" (1974).

Mr. Tuttle spent 15 years as assistant to the head of MGM's makeup department during the heyday of the studio system. Plucking, dabbing, swabbing, he fiddled with the faces of MGM's biggest stars, including Katharine Hepburn, Greer Garson, Jeanette MacDonald, June Allyson, and Donna Reed, to whom he was briefly married in the early 1940s. Reed said at the time: "The first day I went to the studio, they sent me to the makeup department, and a makeup man named Bill Tuttle looked me over. He shook his head, mumbled something about what will they dig up next, and then went to work on me. He changed my eyebrows, shaded my chin, and made my mouth bigger. He made me very mad. Then he looked at me again and said: 'Now you'll do. Except you should change something else.' When I asked him what, he said, 'Your name. It should be Mrs. William Tuttle.' "


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