An experienced and dedicated make-up artist who was in the film industry from 1963,[1] Fred C. Blau worked on Dan Striepeke and John Chambers's snake horror project Sssssss in 1973[2] and was then employed by Tom Burman on a David Wolper Productions/ABC-TV four-part documentary series 'Primal Man', about prehistoric man. Blau credits Chambers with inadvertently saving his life: "During hiatus prior to the last episode I was working for John Chambers on another project at Universal called 'Neanderthal Man' doing the same exact makeups as on 'Primal Man'. I was anticipating a call from Tom Burman to go back to 'Primal Man' when the call came from John. He told me, 'I know the other show is more money (about a third more than what I was making at Universal) but I need you here...' I told John that if anybody else had asked, I wouldn't hesitate to go back to the Wolper project, mainly because of the money. I'll never regret my decision, because shortly thereafter the Wolper plane went down and all those aboard perished. I personally knew 25 of the 33 people on board."[3] Among those killed were Robert and Janos Prohaska. The 'Primal Man' project was re-named and aired in 1974 as the acclaimed series 'Up from the Ape', including the footage already shot and recovered from the plane wreckage.[4]

Blau then worked as a makeup artist on the Planet of the Apes TV series in 1974, where he was personally responsible for Roddy McDowall's makeup following initial training by Striepeke.[5][2] A reporter visiting the set noted that: "Dan Striepeke, one of the creators of the 'Apes' appliances, has a crew of a dozen makeup artists working under him. Their art practice is energy-draining in that it takes three full hours to apply the features. This means that if Roddy McDowall is to be on the stage, ready to work in his appliance at 8.30 a.m., he must arise at 4.00 a.m. and report to the makeup department by 5.00 a.m. Roddy McDowall whiles away the time by listening to classical music during these three hours."[6]

Blau went on to work on such film projects as Apocalypse Now (1979), Addams Family Values (1993), Con Air (1997), Armageddon (1998) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), before returning to work on such characters as Thade's stunt double on the re-imagined Planet of the Apes in 2001 and then going into part-time retirement.[2]


  • An article from the time named a different makeup artist responsible for McDowall's transformation on the Apes TV series: "The make-up in the series is one of the most complex features, of course. It takes make-up artist Kenny Knight three hours to do the face of star Roddy McDowall."[7]

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