Jack Dawn Poster


Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (6)

Overview (3)

Born in Fleming, Kentucky, USA
Died in Glendale, California, USA
Birth NameJohn Wesley Dawn

Mini Bio (1)

Perhaps the most innovative pioneer in Hollywood make-up artistry was Kentuckian Jack Dawn, responsible for creating numerous iconic images. Already as a youngster in his home state, Jack had shown promise as a sculptor. He began his artistic career as a sign painter in New York City. According to his grandson, he entered the film industry as an extra (for 3$ a day) because he had his own horse! At Mack Sennett's Keystone he helped fellow actors with their make-up. When he returned from wartime service in 1919, he went straight to Hollywood where his expertise was soon rewarded and he began to create his own make-up. After a spell at 20th Century, Jack signed a contract with MGM in 1935. Four years later he was promoted to head the studio make-up department and was put in charge of some thirty personnel. One of the assistants he mentored was the genial William Tuttle who went on to become a singularly prolific make-up artist in his own right. Tuttle is celebrated for his fantastic contrivances which helped make The Twilight Zone (1959) into the single most ground-breaking science fiction/fantasy series of its time.

Jack worked at MGM until his retirement in 1951. During his tenure he conjured up many unique creations, most famously the exotic inhabitants of Oz (for the The Wizard of Oz (1939)), with the aluminium paste make-up for the Tin Man, the green skin for the Wicked Witch of the West and the facial appliances for the Cowardly Lion proving the most challenging. Jack also patented a synthetic plastic called Vinilyte to transform a Caucasian cast into Chinese peasants for The Good Earth (1937). He effectively understated Spencer Tracy's make-up for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) in order to mollify the star who was said to have been 'terrified' of looking like Fredric March in the 1931 version. As a designer of prosthetics, Jack volunteered his services to aid disfigured servicemen awaiting plastic surgery at San Diego Naval Hospital from 1943. Sadly, he received no official accolades for any his work. Make-up would not become a category for the Oscars until many years after his death. However, both his sons and a grandson followed in the footsteps of their illustrious ancestor.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (3)

Marla Shelton (28 May 1937 - 25 February 1943) (divorced) (2 children)
Anna Catherine Cousins (2 September 1919 - 28 October 1926) (divorced) (1 child)
Colleen (? - ?) (divorced)

Trivia (6)

Makeup artist at MGM for virtually his entire career; he worked on only one film (The Big Trail (1930), his first) at another studio.
Because there was no Oscar category for film makeup during his career, Dawn never received an Academy Award, or even a nomination, for his remarkable makeup creations in the 1939 film classic, The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Replaced Cecil Holland as the head of the MGM makeup department in 1939.
Great-grandfather of Patrick Dawn.
Grandfather of Jeff Dawn.
Father of sons Robert Dawn and Wes Dawn.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page