William Tuttle, one of the pioneering greats in the history of movie monster makeup, has passed away. Tuttle spent most of his long career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, a studio more known for glossy musicals than misshapen monsters, but when the opportunity arose he truly excelled at his work.
One of his earliest jobs was on the 1935 film MARK OF THE VAMPIRE, director Tod Browning’s unofficial follow-up to his earlier hits LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1927) and DRACULA (1931). In it, Bela Lugosi played not Dracula but Count Mora, with a bullet hole in his head to indicate that he had died from suicide.
Tuttle created numerous amazing makeups for Rod Serling’s original TWILIGHT ZONE in the 1960s. He was responsible for the troglodyte Morlocks in George Pal’s 1960 film version of THE TIME MACHINE. And he turned Peter Boyle into a funny version of the Frankenstein Monster in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.
But perhaps his greatest achievement was THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO, in which he transformed the young comic actor Tony Randal into the mysterious, aged Asian proprietor of a strange circus. Tuttle’s makeup allowed Randal to appear as other characters in Lao’s circus, including Merlin and Medusa. (Studio publicity suggested that Randal played all “seven” of Lao’s faces, but this is a myth.)
In 1965, Tuttle received an honorary Academy Award for his career in movie makeup – decades before the craft earned its own Oscar category.
William Tuttle was 95. He died from complications related to old age, according to his obituary in the Los Angeles Times. (Unfortunately, it repeats the myth that Randal played seven roles in DR. LAO.)