Following the recent death of Michael Jackson, Make-Up Artist magazine’s next issue will feature a retrospective of the King of Pop, featuring interviews with a number of make-up artists who worked with Jackson over the past three decades, as well as some exclusive, never-before-published photos.
The story—‘The Many Faces of Michael Jackson’—goes back to 1978 when the then-19 year-old singer appeared as the Scarecrow in a big-screen version of The Wiz. “He was very quiet and shy,” remembered Michael Thomas, who worked as Jackson’s make-up artist on the film for two and a half months, “and very much to himself but he seemed to be a happy kid. He used to say that whatever he was working on at the time, that was the most important thing in his life, and he would devote all of his energy and concentration to whatever project he was working on.”
The most celebrated Jackson video of all time may well be the 1983 horror-music extravaganza “Thriller,” which permanently transformed the music-video format. It was also a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the young make-up artists who worked on the project, some of them still new to the business.
“It’s so energizing to see it again,” said Tony Gardner, who joined the crew as a runner before working on his own characters and ultimately appearing as a featured zombie. “I have nothing but positive memories of that time. I was only 19 at the time, but ‘Thriller’ helped me decide what I wanted to do with my life.”
Another major project was Ghosts, a half-hour haunted house epic directed by Stan Winston, who had designed the special make-ups for The Wiz two decades earlier. “He was one of the best actors I’ve ever had in the make-up chair,” said Mike Smithson, who transformed Jackson into two different characters for the project. “He let me do whatever I needed to do and never complained, so it was a really good experience.”
For exclusive Jackson material, see the full story in Make-Up Artist magazine #79, on newsstands July 15, or you may order it here: makeupmag.com/product/july-august-2009/.