An exhaustive look into the design of Universal's iconic Frankenstein makeup. Recently some debate has arisen as to just who was responsible for the DESIGN of the makeup implemented by Jack Pierce. This article attempts to set the record straight, thoroughly documenting and providing extensive references along the way. Originally published in SCARY MONSTERS MAGAZINE NO. 85.
It occurred to me a couple of years back that there seemed to be a concerted effort to shift the credit for the design of the iconic Universal Studios Frankenstein makeup away from Jack Pierce and toward director James Whale, insinuating the design was Whale's, and that Pierce was merely the carpenter following his architectural makeup designs. I found this mystifying, and decided to set the record straight. I spent months researching, digging up every available article, book, or reference I could find that made mention of the design of the makeup. I was determined to make public what I found no matter which direction it pointed (and in fact I provide arguments on both sides of the issue). I traced the timeline of where the idea of Whale as originator first evolved backwards to its origin and found it sprang from pure conjecture on the part of one individual. From there it was picked up and run with by a couple of well-connected people, and over time it became mentioned as a matter of fact in modern film studies through sheer power of repetition. The truth is laid out plainly in this article - Jack Pierce spent countless hours researching, preparing, testing, and redesigning repeatedly until he created the makeup that we see in the film. The idea of Whale as originator came from ONE quote, from Whale himself, with nothing to back it up. NO sketch exists of Whale's supposed artistic designs. Jack Pierce is a makeup master who designed iconic makeup works time and again - he had nothing to gain by fabricating his involvement in this design. It was what he did. It is what he DID do. Also included in this ebook is a long lost interview with Jack Pierce from a Spanish newspaper. I uncovered it in Jack Pierce's scrapbook, copied it, translated it, and present it in the article for your enjoyment. He references the design of the makeup in this article, and just how much input Whale had in the design - no more, or less, than any director would have in such circumstances.