Los Angeles-born makeup artist Kenny Chase - then an apprentice to makeup legend John Chambers - was given his first major (though uncredited) assignment transforming Maurice Evans into 'Dr. Zaius' in the original Planet of the Apes movie, filmed in 1967. He took over that makeup role from Maurice Stein early in production. Chase remembered that "Maurice Evans salivated abnormally and was famous for spitting when he delivered his lines. The running joke when he appeared on stage was not to sit in the first row. Because of this it was nearly impossible to keep his lower jaw piece attached to his lip. In fact at the end of day cleanup the appliance was literally soaked with his saliva." But he considered him "A kind generous man with a good sense of humor and even temperament. Further, Maurice Evans and Roddy McDowall had much in common. Both were true gentlemen and demonstrated even temperaments, good-naturedness and a genuine concern and interest in others with whom they associated, regardless of their status."
Chase went on to a long stint as a makeup artist on TV show The Wild Wild West in 1968-69, but later returned to the Apes films. In 1973, reporter Mike Jahn "spoke with Paul Williams, the pop singer, who was filled with stories of the wonder of his first major acting assignment: playing an orangutan in the film Battle for the Planet of the Apes. During the shooting, Mr. Williams rose at 3:30 a.m., then stayed in makeup for three hours. During one such session, the makeup man, Kenny Chase, began discussing at length the merits of what was the favorite drink of both of them, the margarita. 'He drove me crazy talking about margaritas', Mr. Williams said. 'By noon I couldn’t take it anymore. I was really freaked out. I grabbed Kenny and pulled him into my car.' The car was a 1935 Bugati, 'not an inconspicuous car in any case, but here is this Bugati driving down Pico Boulevard at lunchtime with an orangutan behind the wheel. We drove to the Casa Escabar and went inside. Kenny took me by the arm and went up to the maitre d’. He asked him, ‘Can we have a table in a dark corner? We want to be alone.’'"
Ken Chase worked alongside Planet of the Apes personnel John Chambers, Tom Burman, Ellis Burman Jr., Werner Kepler, Ed Butterworth, Fred Blau, Janos Prohaska and Robert Prohaska on the David Wolper Productions/ABC-TV four-part documentary series 'Primal Man', about prehistoric man's struggle for survival, during filming of which, in March 1974, a chartered plane crashed, killing all 36 people on board, including the Prohaskas and many of the production crew.
He has had a long and distinguished career in film and TV makeup, and his credits include Going Ape! (1981), Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982), Back to the Future (1985, makeup creator), The Color Purple (1985, Oscar-nominated makeup designer), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Back to the Future Part II (1989, makeup designer), Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000) and Evolution (2001).
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