Special Makeup Effects - Prosthetic Appliances / John Chambers - Werner Keppler


With the start of the 2nd season of the pioneering TV series 'Night Gallery' Universal reorganized 
the Makeup Lab for the popular show.
Nick Marcellino was the new head of the department.
John Chambers, the Academy Award winning master of special makeup effecs ('Planet of the Apes'), and the young Leonard Engelman 
were in charge of all the required makeup for the wonderfully spooky episodes of the Horror-Show.
Leonard Engelman was responsible for the actors non appliance 'stage' makeup. 
For all the prosthetic sculpting, molding and casting for the monsters and creatures, John Chambers was the authority, 
often assisted by his old buddy Werner Keppler (uncredited).
The speedy production pace of the show made the guys create a new monster almost every week!
All on a limited budget, with all the typical problems of such a show.
Scripts were not ready, actors not available, ...and so on.
John Chambers excellent mastery of prosthetics and his superb talent for improvisations made almost everything possible.
It was a time full of innovative and creative solutions.
Despite the many small and large hurdles, John Chambers and Leonard Engelman created some very memorable work for the show. 
During their time on the 'Night Gallery' some of the best episodes emerged. 
The 'Night Gallery' makeup crew lifted the standards to a new height!
The outstanding, straight forward makeup designs of the show were an inspiration for many young makeup artists.

And now ladies and gentlemen, please have your tickets ready for your visit in the bizarre NIGHT GALLERY.
Today you will see an occult-flavored 'Lovecraft' double feature proudly presented by 
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Breathe deeply one last time before the light goes out.
Curtain up for the 'Night Gallery' with two very strange tales of horror.

What our on-air host Rod Serling offers us here is a rough concept, brushed against the grain, 
and surely nothing for lovers of serious genre stories.
'Professor Peabody's last Lecture' is an unorthodox work for attentive listeners and lovers of pulp entertainment.
The Professor is full of humor ...and strange powers! 
Filmed in a day, with a script of only a handful of pages, but ennobled with a fastly prepared Special Makeup gag 
of maestro John Chambers at the end.

Professor Peabody, intensively played by Carl Reiner, is teaching his students about ancient pagan religions, 
the Cult of the Great Old Ones.
It is very fast clear, that he takes this old religious stuff not very seriously.
That will get him into trouble very very soon...
The cheerful Professor goes ahead dismissing the Great Old Ones as childish superstitions.
Mr.Derleth (!), one of his students, reminds the professor that it is a punishable blasphemy to speak the name 
HASTUR aloud.
But that does not impress our professor.
Another student, Mr. Lovecraft (of course!), asks him about a book, the Necronomicon.
Peabody has prepared a reading from this book.
As the professor reads passages from the Necronomicon, a powerful local storm is gathering.
The short story has a strange atmosphere, which is consistently approaching its peak.
But an improved atmospheric lighting concept, more effective camera positions and a better classroom Set would 
bring the episode considerably forward.
Look at the painting!
But now the story continues, the Great Old Ones are slowly getting more and more angry about the amusing Professor.
With the ever increasing storm, the professor seems to change as well.
The incredulous humor gives way to a pronounced mania.
Peabody pulls us into something ...
A lusty one-man show of actor Carl Reiner.
Raging power.
The professor roars out the lines from the book Necronomicon.
Something happens. Something seems to have a strange effect on him... 
The influence of an ancient god?
A great performance of Carl Reiner.
At the height of the thunderstorm,
the students experience the spooky consequences of Professor Peabody's Last Lecture.
Mr.Lovecraft feels a great deal of fear!
Time for the makeup department and their groovy shock moment.
Professor Peabody has transformed into some kind of slimy-green creature.
A one-eyed octopus from a radioactive contaminated deep-sea cave.
The slimy monster speaks to his shocked students in a normal voice: 
'And now, if there are no further questions...'
BRILLIANT!
The straight forward creature mask was fashioned out by John Chambers and Werner Keppler, 
who created all the foam and rubber aplliances, teeth, contact lenses and other special makeup gadgets for the series.
Tom Wright, a production illustrator at Universal, did the gallery paintings that Rod Serling presented before each episode.
He also did the concept designs and illustration sketches for the creatures.
To the left of the mask you can see an illustration sheet for the makeup department, 
containing the information and tasks required for the episode. 
The starting point for the makeup crew.
The finished makeup/mask is their interpretation of the submitted concept sketches.
A one-eyed, slimy-green mop.
Apparently they had the idea to give the creature two large paws with claws.
The makeup department created a pair of claws, but unfortunately they were not used.
A quick punch with the paw in the directions of his students would have been a nice idea as final scene.
Kodak Ektachrome - June 1971.
A view from the side. 
It looks like as if the mask has been slipped over the head in one piece.
For large, tight and heavy rubber masks, a hidden zipper (or similar) is often installed to make it easier 
to put the mask on. 
Due to the lack of facial expression (no mouth, no nose, ...), the mask did not have to be specially adapted to the actor.
Anyone with a similar stature as Carl Reiner could have played the monster.
Maybe Carl was no longer available, as they used a stand-in for the scenes with the mask.
The makeup crew upgraded the scenes with a nice on-set 'dripping slime' (methylcellulose) effect.
'Peabody' is highly entertaining episode, made nearly entirely for laughs.
Despite minor problems a little gem with a stylish John Chambers final.
I fully understand that many fans don't like 'Peabody' that much, but I love his dedicated appearance, 
seemingly controlled by a third party!
It's great to have such an episode among the many more serious ones.
Ladies and gentlemen, now it is time for something really special.
The 'Pickman' episode is a real magic moment for the 'Night Gallery' on all levels of production (direction, photography,..) 
and especially for the makeup department.
The fabulous episode got an Emmy nomination for its Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. 
Surprisingly Nick Marcellino, Leonard Engelman and John Chambers lost against 'Kung Fu' and Frank Westmore.
But their Ghoul creature became a true cult classic over the years, and one of John Chambers personal favorites.
The Ghoul is a horrifying human-reptilian-rat mixture living in the dark sewers of Boston pursuing beautiful girls.
You're in luck, it's feeding time!
Curtain up for Pickman's Model...
The Ghoul Costume is an excellent makeup design created by one of the great innovators of special makeup techniques 
and appliances for the film and television world, John Chambers.
It fully shows his superb craftsmanship and his tremendous expertise in prosthetic appliances.
The evolution of the Ghoul started with a script, some illustrations of Tom Wright and the search for a sporty creature-actor. 
The often unknown man in the suit.
The choice fell on the relatively small, but very athletic Robert Prohaska (1946–1974).
Than the makeup department took over...
Back in the 70's the Ghoul was featured in a TV Guide story, richly illustrated with some very interesting photos.
The photos on the top show three stages of modeling the head in clay.
Center: After a mold is made, the head is cast in rubber and the fur and selected fangs are applied.
Than ugly, lifelike scales are detailed in the clawlike hands and the legs.
Bottom: Legs are fitted and torso fur is applied and combed out.
We will take a closer look...
John Chambers (1922-2001) and his assistent Werner Keppler work on the head mask in mold.
They took a face and body cast of Robert Prohaska and modeled on that.
Werner Keppler is a great mold man (it is a real art to cast perfect molds!) and a pro at manufacturing 
foam latex appliances. 
But Werner is much more than just the faithful assistant of John Chambers, he is a legend himself in 
the field of Special Makeup effects. 
Werner Keppler is still with us and celebrated his 89th birthday this year, on May 24th.
John Chambers is giving the Fangs of the Ghoul some finishing touches.
Chambers worked as dental technician in a hospital during his time in army (WWII).
One of his basic trainings as a young kid in the hospital was to make teeth for wounded soldiers.
Another assistent helping John Chambers with the Ghoul project was Pat Newman.
She devised and scuplted part of the Ghoul's head.
The head mask on the way of being finished - Looks great! - December, 1971.
Universal makeup lab.
On the left you can see an illustration painting of Tom Wright. 
An illustration of the script for the makeup department.
From here the crew started with their own interpretation.
What is possible and what is not ... especially in the small time window.
Well, we're talking about John Chambers here, if something was not possible, 
it was made possible with ingenuity and creativity.
Nick Marcellino, head of the Universal makeup department, and Thomas Wright, production illustrator at Universal, 
take a look at the progress in designing of the Ghoul.
Nick was very respected as head of the wizard lab. 
He kept the Universal Makeup Department open for years, though more than once the studio came up with the idea 
of closing the lab to hire external people for the makeup work.
Nick retired from Universal Studios in 1981.
Leonard Engelman and John Chambers pour rubber in an old mold (leg mold).
As sophisticated viewer of old horror and sci-fi movie and television stuff, you've probably recognized the likeness of the
Pickman's Model Ghoul and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
John Chambers took molds for the reptilian skin off the monster from Universal's Creature from the Black Lagoon model 
by using a short-cut method of mixing foam rubber, slushing it into the mold with a flat scraper and 
mixing it up.
It saved days and hours of curing!
The old 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' suit was vulcanized in a large oven, 
that Bud Westmore had installed in the Universal lab for the film.
Bud Westmore and his crew used a liquid latex back in the 50s, which had to be vulcanized with heat.
John Chambers in Questar magazine, 1980: 
"We got the skin out of the mold in half hour, whereas it would take hours to run a normal mold".
Two Universal Monster buddies.
The same molds for the arms and legs ...and the same passion for beautiful girls!
Leonard Engelman, John Chambers and Werner Keppler work on leg sections of the Ghoul costume.
The guys took all these bits and pieces, made hair out of a sheepskin and attached it all on a leotard.
A lengthy procedure for the man in the suit, Robert Prohaska.
John Chambers, Janos Prohaska and Robert Prohaska in the Universal makeup kitchen, 1971.
Johnny is checking the leg pieces which are applied to a close-fitting leotard.
Robert Prohaska is standing on a table with a dark body shirt on, under it a hump made of chicken wire.
The fur will be attached to the hump and he gets his ghoulish arm appliances.
His father, the legendary 'man-in-suit' Titan Janos Prohaska, came over for a visit.
Janos Prohaska started out in Europe performing in Circuses and in the mid-fifties made his way to the 
United States and Hollywood.
In Hollywood he worked as a stunt man and became typecast as a 'Gorilla', but he was good in every costume.
Among other things he played different Creatures in the classic 'Star Trek' TV series.
The Horta (some kind of Stone monster) and the white Gorilla-like creature, The Mugato, are the best known of these.
He often built his own costumes and did his own stunt work.
Janos and his son Robert Prohaska went on to design the costumes for the David Wolper Productions/ABC-TV four-part 
documentary series 'Primal Man', about prehistoric man's struggle for survival, with John Chambers and 
Tom Burman designing the makeup and fellow-Apes makeup artists like Werner Keppler, Ken Chase, 
Ed Butterworth and Fred Blau all working on the series. During filming of the final episode, 
'The Struggle for Survival', on March 13 1974, some of the cast and crew boarded a chartered plane to return 
to Los Angeles, but it crashed into a mountain, killing all 36 people on board, including Janos and Robert 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.
Robert is standing on the table waiting for his 'hairy coat', while Werner Keppler and 
John Chambers comb the body hair (sheepskin).
The Ghoul is a wolf in sheep's clothing!
Nick Marcellino, Leonard Engelman, Robert Prohaska (Ghoul) and John Chambers - Universal Lab, 1971.
Robert gets his head mask, glued into position on certain places.
Missing only a pair of well-selected scleral contact lenses and the fur. 
What a spooky, terrifying monster!
The entire crew was there when the Ghoul suit was finished.
They all knew that they had created something really great! 
Something the terrified television viewers will remember even years later.
Hair fitted on body, shoulder and around neck.
Leonard Engelman, Robert Prohaska and John Chambers.
Screenshots of the Ghoul - Pickman's Model.
The Ghoul got some extra power through the fine Art Direction and a good cinematography! 
Art Director Joe Alves later worked for hit movies like 'Jaws', 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind
and 'Escape from New York'.
Bradford Dillman (Pickman) fights with the Ghoul, both break through the railing and fall into the depths.
Dillman took the risk and did the stunt himself, which was no problem for the trained stuntman Robert Prohaska.
The blurred picture on the right, an old Ektachrome slide, has a poor quality, but you can see the thick 
cushions / mats necessary for the stunt (landing zone).
Nevertheless, you should pay close attention to where you land.
The Actors, Louise Sorel (Mavis) and Bradford Dillman (Pickman), were a bit worried that this little guy (Robert Prohaska) 
could really carry them through the set.
Robert was a physically fit, athletic young man, he dropped no one.
John Chambers, Robert Prohaska (Ghoul) and Tom Wright.
Makeup master John Chambers looks very satisfied. 
At the end, everyone involved in the creation of the Ghoul came to the set to take a few pictures.
Werner in trouble - Urologist Doctor Ghoul is ready for the check-up.
The young makeup artist Leonard Engelman was quite rightly proud that the Ghoul got an Emmy nomination.
This reptilian monster is a truly impressive highlight of the Night Gallery!
All photos (Ektachrome Slides) are from the moon-city-garbage archive.

The voices from the depths of the sewer tell me: This is the End!
But I will be back with more stories about John Chambers, one of the earliest makeup industry trailblazers.
If you want to know more about the complete 'Night Gallery' series, I recommend the book: 
Rod Serling's Night Gallery - An After-Hours tour.
A little dry here and there, but always informative.
The authors have done their homework and present a well-researched book with lots of background information 
on almost 400 pages.

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