Local 706 - The Artisan

Spring 2016

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24 (Editor's note: Charlie Gemora was one of Local 706's found- ing members, and J.L. Barnett is married to his granddaughter. Jason has recently completed a two-hour documentary on the life of Charlie Gemora called Charlie Gemora: Uncredited. He has given a copy of the film to Local 706 for viewing, or you can see it on Vimeo.) A s a child raised in the Philippines, Carlos Cruz Gemora likely never dreamed he'd be a make- up artist and hairdresser to the Hollywood film industry, but as fate would have it, "Charlie" arrived in time to be employed at Universal Pictures on Lon Chaney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He was just 18 years old. It was at Universal Studios he met twin hairdress- ers Percival and Ernest Westmore, whose father George was expanding his family business into make-up artistry and was a great friend to Lon Chaney. Charlie learned how to draw and paint by reading books on the subject. He generously shared his art techniques with the Westmores and they taught him wig-making. It was on The Lost World that Perc Westmore hired make-up artist Cecil Holland to create an apeman out of wrestler Bull Montana. Charlie Gemora fashioned the ape costume, and he would later build one of the first animatronic ape costumes and co-star in DeMille's 1928 mystery picture, The Leopard Lady. The Monster and the Girl (1941) was MAKE-UP ARTIST CHARLIE GEMORA GETS CREDITED Gemora's best ape costume and performance. He did not receive on-screen credit, how- ever, his co-star, Skipper the Dog, did. By March of 1929, the Max Factor building was the headquarters of the Motion Picture Make-up Artists Association. Gemora, along with Jack Dawn, Mel Berns, F.B. Phillips, Sam Kaufman, Jack Pierce and others, held weekly meetings with George Westmore, who headed dem- onstrations to help overcome any problems encountered by the make-up artist. In the 1930s, Gemora was a working make-up artist often recruiting and apprenticing people for the Westmores, who dominated the studios. This was the Golden Age of Hollywood and they needed an army of make-up artists and hair stylists to work these lavish productions. Make- up artists were originally included within Local 235, the United Scenic Artists union, and in December of 1935, they obtained their own craft union classification. All 60 members were pleased when Local 706 received its own separate I.A.T.S.E. charter in 1937 and Gemora was officially signed in on September 9, 1937. Paramount Pictures was Charlie's home base and he worked under department head Wally Westmore. Charlie made a very significant con- tribution to the art of make-up when actor Akim Tamiroff was to appear as a Chinese general in The General Died by J.L. Barnett

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