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Universal Studios Hollywood

Land of a Thousand Faces
(aka The Show of a Thousand Faces) (August 1975 - 1979)

Souvenir poster from the show. Art work by Ron Cobb depicting 'The Spirit of the Mirror' (center), who spoke in the voice of Senior Thespian John Carradine (with pipe organ score by Verne Langdon) about the great movie character makeup of the past, as the face of 'The Spirit' dissolved into each makeup he described!
Souvenir poster from the show. Art work by Ron Cobb depicting 'The Spirit of the Mirror' (center), who spoke in the voice of Senior Thespian John Carradine (with pipe organ score by Verne Langdon) about the great movie character makeup of the past, as the face of 'The Spirit' dissolved into each makeup he described!

Following the success of the make-up show in the small Glamour Pavilion (capacity around 100 people), Nick Marcelino, head of make-up at the studio was approached by Jay Stein and Terry Winnick to come up with a more elaborate show. He suggested that his friend Verne Langdon could create a show which could play to a larger audience up to 10 times per day. The stunt show was moved to a new venue, and the 1500-seat outdoor arena was prepared for The Land of a Thousand Faces show. As this was an open-air arena, the sets and props had to be securely fixed down so they didn't get dislodged during strong winds.

The arena was built up to form the new Castle Theatre just after the end of this shows run for an even more elaborate make-up based show - Castle Dracula.

(left to right) Robert Zraick, Verne Langdon, Keith Crary and Mark Siegel
Frankenstein's Monster and Bride, August 1975 (photo by Perry Shields)

The show began with "The Spirit Of The Mirror" (show host in "Spirit" makeup) reminiscing about the great screen makeups of the past, including Lon Chaney's Phantom Of The Opera, followed by Charles Laughton's portrayal of Quasimodo, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, plus the Wizard Of Oz characters The Lion, The Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodsman. As each famed makeup and it's artist-creator were mentioned, the faces morphed one into the other. The pre-recorded voice of "The Spirit" was character actor John Carradine, speaking lines written by Verne Langdon, to Theatre Organ accompaniment composed  and performed and also pre-recorded by Langdon.

'Hollywood make-up artists transform a couple from the audience into Frankenstein and his bride' (from Inside Universal Studios, 1975)
'Hollywood make-up artists transform a couple from the audience into Frankenstein and his bride' (from Inside Universal Studios, 1975)

The classic makeups created in The Land Of A Thousand Faces show (Frankenstein's Monster and the "New" Bride Of Frankenstein) were applied to tour visitors selected before the start of the show, and already seated in place when the curtains parted on the makeup department set following The Spirit Of The Mirror and show introduction, and opening greetings by the show host, who of course is the Spirit Of The Mirror in full "Spirit" makeup, which he removes in front of the audience.

(left to right) Robert Zraick, Verne Langdon, Keith Crary and Mark Siegel
The Crew in 1975 (left to right) Robert Zraick, Verne Langdon, Keith Crary and Mark Siegel. Langdon created the show with Terry Winnick & Jay Stein. Keith Crary, Marcos Barragan and Nick Pagliaro were the attraction's premier makeup artists who transformed two tourists every show into Frankenstein's Monster and the 'New Bride of Frankenstein' within a record-breaking fifteen minutes! The show was performed 8 times per day to fifteen hundred spectators every show. (The 'New Bride' makeup was designed and created by Robert Zraick & Verne Langdon). Mark Siegel and Dave Quashnick were Robert Zraick's lab assistants.

No video was used in this show, nor in Castle Dracula. Giant 12'x12' (twelve foot by twelve foot) color transparencies - four in each set - illustrated Glamour Makeup, Casualty Makeup, Old Age makeup, and clown makeup on various stars of the day (Phyllis Diller was the recipient of the beauty makeup in the photo series), Edgar Bergen (Candice's famed ventriloquist father) was the clown, and so on. As each type of makeup was described each frame would light up, easily seen by all 1,700 tour visitors from any seat in the theater. At the end of the 20 minute show, the tourists had been transformed into Frankenstein's Monster and His "new" Bride (a special makeup conceived by Verne Langdon and Bob Zraick) in full view of the audience as the rest of the show was proceeding by original show makeup artists Keith Crary and Nick Pagliaro, and appeared in a brief sketch where the show host becomes the "mad doctor", and miming again to Carradine's "mad doctor" voice and Langdon's pipe organ score, the two monsters are enclosed in an "eternal life" cabinet by the mad doctor, then the switch is thrown and the cabinet "explodes" in a giant blast of smoke, revealing two charred skeletons in place of the tourist actors. This was the grand finale of The Land Of A Thousand Faces Makeup Show.

The Hulk breaking through, 1978 (photo by John Crystal)
The Hulk breaking through, 1978 (photo by John Crystal)

Towards the end of the run of the show (around June 1978) The Incredible Hulk was added to the show. The Hulk ran onto stage and grabbing the victims, punched his way through a solid brick wall and led them out (possibly to be fed to the perfomers in the Animal Actors show next door).

The title of the show comes from the title given to Lon Chaney 'The Man of a Thousand Faces'.

Many thanks to Verne Langdon for additional information

Photo Gallery

Land of a Thousand Faces

Land of a Thousand Faces - 1 - The whole stage including the backlit transparencies and the Spirit mirror (c.1975) - Photo courtesy Verne Langdon
Land of a Thousand Faces - 1 - The whole stage including the backlit transparencies and the Spirit mirror (c.1975) - Photo courtesy Verne Langdon
 Land of a Thousand Faces - 2 - Hulk press advert (from Los Angeles Times, 25 June 1978) Courtesy Dickens Archive
Land of a Thousand Faces - 2 - Hulk press advert (from Los Angeles Times, 25 June 1978) Courtesy Dickens Archive
 Land of a Thousand Faces - 3 - Land of a Thousand Faces Publicity still (1979) courtesy Dickens Archive
Land of a Thousand Faces - 3 - Land of a Thousand Faces Publicity still (1979) courtesy Dickens Archive
 Land of a Thousand Faces - 4 - The Incredible Hulk press photo - 1979 (courtesy of Dickens Archive)
Land of a Thousand Faces - 4 - The Incredible Hulk press photo - 1979 (courtesy of Dickens Archive)
 Land of a Thousand Faces - 5 - Postcard of The Hulk on the Land of a Thousand Faces stage (1978) scan courtesy Dickens Archive
Land of a Thousand Faces - 5 - Postcard of The Hulk on the Land of a Thousand Faces stage (1978) scan courtesy Dickens Archive
 

Newspaper Article

From 'The News', Van Nuys, CA, Friday August 15 1975 (courtesy Verne Langdon)

Article, 1975

Super 8 Film Clip from 1979

1979 Super-8 silent footage of the make-up show.

Other resources

The Adventures of Curious George sign - March 21 2008
Curious George in Space! (March 2008)

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