Title: SCULPTURED LIFE MASKS
Collection Number: 0051
Span Dates: 1935 – 1975
Creator: William Tuttle
Extent: 27 Boxes
Links: William Tuttle Box List
Subject(s): William Tuttle , Makeup Artists , Prosthetics , Movie Monsters , Plaster Masks , Wax Heads , Rubber Masks , MGM , Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Notes: William “Bill” Tuttle was the head of MGM’s makeup department from 1950 into the 1970s. During his career, Tuttle revolutionized beauty and makeup techniques, developing some of the most realistic and comfortable prosthetics used in Hollywood. Having worked on over 300 films, Tuttle is recognized as an expert and pioneer in his field. In 1965 Tuttle received an honorary Academy Award for his work on “7 Faces of Dr. Lao.” Tuttle was the first makeup artist to receive an Academy award, the official Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling wasn’t given out until 1981.
Tuttle began his career as an apprentice to Jack Dawn, head of makeup at 20th Century Pictures.
In 1936 he became a regular staff member at MGM and remained with the studio for 35 years. During this time, Tuttle worked with hundreds of Hollywood stars, including Gene Kelly (in “Singin’ in the Rain”) and Katharine Hepburn (in “Pat and Mike”). Tuttle also became an expert at aging actors: turning 18-year-old Sophia Loren into an 80-year-old woman for “Lady L,” and creating movie monsters: transforming Peter Boyle into Frankenstein’s monster for “Young Frankenstein.”
From 1970 to 1995, Tuttle lectured at USC. He also donated his collection of over 100 plaster “life masks” to the university. The masks are exact replicas of actors’ faces (and in one case, Cyd Charisse’s legs), invented by Tuttle so that prosthetics could be fitted even when the actors weren’t present on set. The William Tuttle Collection also includes wax heads, rubber masks, and a display case with 5 heads from “7 Faces of Dr. Lao.”
Citation: Willian Tuttle Collection, Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive, University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.
Location: USC Hefner Archive
Access: Available by appointment.