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10 Groundbreaking Uses of Special Effects Makeup


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'Phantom of the Opera' (1925)
The 'Man of a Thousand Faces,' Lon Chaney, was famous for doing his own makeup -- invaluable when playing title characters in 'The Phantom of the Opera' and 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame.' Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images
The 'Man of a Thousand Faces,' Lon Chaney, was famous for doing his own makeup -- invaluable when playing title characters in 'The Phantom of the Opera' and 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame.' Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images

Lon Chaney, one of the greatest actors of the silent era, was famed for doing his own elaborate makeup, which he saw as the ultimate way to reveal the inner lives of his characters. "As a man's face reveals much that is in his mind and heart, I attempt to show this by the makeup I use," he once explained.

In order to portray a tormented, disfigured wraith who becomes obsessed with a beautiful young opera singer, Chaney altered his cheeks with a combination of cotton and collodion, a viscous liquid that creates the appearance of scarred skin. He also attached a strip of fish skin (a thin, translucent material) to his nose with spirit gum to create an upturned effect, and applied dark eyeliner to give himself a hollow-eyed appearance. The upturned nose was further enhanced by a wire running from the tip of his nose to under his bald cap, which often gave him nosebleeds [sources: TCM, Ebert, IMDB].