*This contains material previously seen in Joe’s “Making Up the Monsters” series.
The Universal Monsters franchise has given us iconic characters such as Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein and The Mummy. We here at UMU profiled the actors and actresses behind these famous characters. While the actors and actresses brought the role to life with their lines, the make-up artists who worked behind the scenes for hours on end were vital to making the characters look believable and scary. We featured two special artists who are famous for their work on the Universal Monsters – the legendary Jack Pierce and make-up artist for 2017’s The Mummy, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Yianni Georgiou.
Jack Pierce was born Janus Piccoula on May 5, 1889 in Greece. He came to the United States as a teenager and tried many careers including an attempt at professional baseball. In the 1920s, he embarked on a career in film. He held jobs as a cinema manager, stuntman, actor and assistant director. He would find his niche in make-up where he would become famous. The first film he did make-up for was 1926’s The Monkey Talks, where he worked on actor Jacques Lernier. The look of Lernier won over Carl Laemmle, head of Universal. In 1928, Pierce was taken on by Universal to do make-up.
In 1931, Pierce would embark on turning Boris Karloff into Frankenstein’s monster. It would take four hours to apply the make-up which consisted of cotton, collodion, gum and green greasepaint. Pierce was not the easiest person to get along with but he and Karloff worked very well together. They would team up once again in 1932’s The Mummy. Pierce made up Karloff head to toe as The Mummy but it is only Karloff’s head and hands that appear on screen. Pierce then made up Karloff as Ardeth Bay, making him appear old and wrinkled, which is how he is seen throughout the movie.
Jack Pierce would become famous for his work in the Universal Monsters franchise. Universal Studios has a copyright on Pierce’s Frankenstein make-up until 2026.
Jack Pierce set the standard for monster make-up today and as we get closer to the release of The Mummy, we celebrate a woman who is just as talented for a new generation of monsters as Mr. Pierce was for the classics.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Yianni-Georgiou was born on July 15 and currently resides in London, England. Georgiou started in make-up in college, taking a three-year course in Make-Up, Beauty Therapy, Wig-making and Business. Over the summer she would work at hair salons and took a course at the Vidal Sassoon school to help improve her skills. Out of this opportunity, she was given the chance to do makeup for competition models. Georgiou spoke of the experience saying, “It was while in this environment that I applied for a trainee position at Thames Television, an independent company. There were 3,000 applicants for three jobs, one of which I was lucky enough to get!” Georgiou spent the first six months at a training school learning make-up, ageing, glamour and prosthetics. After four years, including two years teaching artists herself, she was officially a make-up artist. Her first job was for a 1984 film called Voyage Around My Father starring Sir Laurence Olivier. This would be the start of a brilliant career.
Ms. Georgiou has gone on to work on major films such as Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy.
In addition to being an expert make-up artist, Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou is fluent in Greek and Italian. She has three daughters who are also in show business, Bella and Alannah Olivia who are actresses and Phoebe who is a media journalist. Bella Ava Georgiou is also a hair and makeup artist.
You may consider The Mummy to be a family film because Bella and Lizzie will be doing the movie’s make-up together.
— Sofia Boutella (@sofisia) April 26, 2016
Jack Pierce turned Boris Karloff into the Mummy and Ardeth Bay back in 1932 and eighty-five years later, Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou is working on turning Sofia Boutella into the legendary monster. We can’t wait and as Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou has promised, “we won’t be disappointed.”
The Mummy is directed by Alex Kurtzman, from a script by Jon Spaihts. It stars Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Marwan Kenzari, Courtney B. Vance, and Sofia Boutella as the title character. The Mummy is scheduled to open June 9, 2017.
(Joe Grodensky – @joegrodensky)