John Chambers worked out of his home in a blue collar neighborhood in Burbank, California, (actually, his garage transformed into a makeup lab) where the likes of Lana Turner could be found sitting for a set of teeth, Howard Keel getting a fitting for an Indianesque nose, Leonard Nimoy acquiring the trademark pointed ears for his inimical Mr. Spock character. Marlon Brando, 'Mickey Rooney' , and Lee Marvin (who wore one of Chamber's nose jobs in Marvin's 1965 Academy Award-winning "Cat Ballou" role) were also known to have visited his garage for fittings of one thing or another. Indeed, Chambers was the special effects master, stamping (and molding) his influence with his work in such movies and television shows as Planet of the Apes (1968), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), "The Outer Limits" (1963), "The Munsters" (1964), "Lost in Space" (1965) and _"Mission Impossible" (1966)_. Though he developed many of his makeup innovations in the 1950s and 1960s, they are still in use today. His skull caps, for instance, are a standard in the business. It is perhaps with Planet of the Apes (1968) that Chambers experienced one of his greatest challenges. His preparation and research for the movie included so much time spent making notes and drawings of monkeys at the Los Angeles Zoo, that he became something of a zoo fixture and a draw himself. Visitors to the zoo, in fact, began watching him as much as they watched the monkeys. For his efforts, before the Motion Picture Academy decided in 1981 to designate a category for a makeup award, Chambers received an honorary Academy Award at the 1969 Oscars ceremony. Throughout his career, Chambers has received many other honors, most notably an Emmy and a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Not unlike many a professional, he began his career in the Army during World War II, where he served as a dental technician. It was in this capacity that he found himself working with the scars of war - actually, working against the scars of war - and gaining a great deal of knowledge of repairing more than teeth: entire faces. His experience with creating new ears, noses, and chins, as well as teeth, for veterans ravaged by war, landed Chambers at NBC in 1953 with a job in makeup. His wartime experiences also influenced Chambers to use his skills to help indigent cancer victims acquire prosthetics against the ravages of another kind of war. Few knew of his charitable work, but few who knew him would be surprised by it. Throughout his life he took many under his wing, giving guidance and training to 'Mike Westmore (I)', Maurice Stein and other accomplished makeup artists, asking only in return that they (to borrow from a recent movie) "pay it forward".
September 12, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois, USA
August 25, 2001 (age 77) in Woodland Hills, California, USA