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Irene Kent-Redford in 2014 | Photo courtesy of Allan Redford

IATSE Local 873 to honor her in Celebration of Life

IATSE Local 873 charter member Irene Kent-Redford has passed away, her son Allan Redford told Make-Up Artist magazine. She was the last surviving founding member. Over the course of her career, she was head of the CBC make-up department from 1952-56; developed Derma Plast, a product used for character and special make-up effects; developed and manufactured her own cosmetics line; was Judy Garland’s personal make-up artist for her concert at the O’Keefe Centre; and worked on movies such as Getting Away with Murder, Tommy Boy, Good Will Hunting, Half Baked and Mercy. She was 86.

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Irene Kent-Redford on the make-up table at CBC, circa 1950s | Photo courtesy of Allan Redford

Born Feb. 22, 1929 in Toronto, Kent-Redford grew up in the Cabbagetown neighborhood. Without any skills or qualifications, Kent-Redford’s determination led her to start working at the top beauty salon in town. From there, she went on to head the CBC make-up department in 1952 and trained a staff of 18. While on a networking trip to New York in 1952, she became a member of IATSE, which led to the beginning of her freelance career.

While working on the TV series Last of the Mohicans (1957) with Lon Chaney Jr., during the winter in a forest, Kent-Redford became determined to improve the working conditions for make-up artists. She became one of six IATSE members to create Local 873 in Toronto in 1958. She continued to be involved as an elected board member and delegate to the convention for the rest of her life. As a member of the Bargaining Committee, she fought for better wages and working conditions for her colleagues. A tribute to be posted on the International Bulletin reads “Irene Kent was 86 and was an active and proud IATSE member to the very end. She was small but mighty, and she will definitely be missed.”

On the causes she was particularly passionate about, her son said, “The union was always her greatest passion outside of her family because of worker’s rights and working conditions, and she supported the Actor’s Fund.

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Irene Kent-Redford behind the camera | Photo courtesy of Allan Redford

“I am very proud of what she has done … A former student/mentor of hers reminded me that Mom never did any of the union business for herself,” Redford continued. “Once she experienced the terrible working conditions as a freelancer, her efforts weren’t to advance her career. It was always about the greater good of the group. When something wasn’t right, she stood up and let the right people know. She did it with absolutely no expectation of anything in return from them. She did it as someone’s Mom might.”

In honor of Kent-Redford, Local 873 will hold a Celebration of Life on Dec. 6, 2015 from 1-3 p.m. at Pinewood Studios, Studio 11, 225 Commissioners St. Toronto, ON. It will not be an exclusive service; the invitation is open to anyone who wishes to pay their respects. In lieu of flowers, Redford says donations to the Little People of Ontario (lpo.on.ca) would be appreciated. Condolences and memories may be forwarded through humphreymilesnewbigging.com.