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August 2004
News & Notices
News From:
Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Joe Blasco’s Session
Showed Creativity

James Glavan
Costume Design & Technology Commission

Lights! Camera! Action!

It was a true Hollywood moment when Joe Blasco, make-up artist to the stars, took the stage on the opening day of the 2004 USITT Conference & Stage Expo in Long Beach, California. His highly entertaining and energetic three-hour presentation was filled with his legendary make-up application techniques, personal histories, amusing backstage Hollywood stories, and a fascinating three-dimensional prosthetic character make-up application by Academy Award-winner and surprise special guest Matthew W. Mungle.

It was admittedly a big moment for Mr. Blasco, who made his first appearance at a USITT event. The celebrated television, film, and fashion make-up artist was being honored with the USITT Distinguished Achievement Award in Make-up. It was the first time anyone had been honored in this category in the history of the organization.

The award, eloquently presented at noon on Wednesday by Chair of the Awards Committee Sarah Nash Gates and then again by USITT President Bruce Brockman at the Saturday evening Awards Banquet, honored Mr Blasco’s career as a successful make-up artist, innovative cosmetics manufacturer, and beloved and respected teacher. Genuinely impressed with the high professional standards and organization of the event and by the significance of the award itself, Mr. Blasco addressed his audience with “this means more to me than winning an Academy Award, because the recognition comes from other educators, and that is how I want to be remembered.”

In a career that spans 35 years, Joe Blasco has been highly successful in all areas of the make-up industry: artist, manufacturer, and educator. He is known for his ability to apply all forms of make-up artistry. He has designed the faces of some of the most beautiful women in motion pictures and television, and has created innovations in the realm of horror and monster characterization. His most notable achievement is the invention of the concept of today's modern make-up school.

Mr. Blasco's early apprenticeship in the late 1960s was with some of the great names in make-up: Ben Nye, Sr. and George Bau. Through most of the 1970s and early 1980s he served as head make-up artist at NBC, CBS, and ABC on such well-known shows as The Red Skelton Show, Jim Nabors Show, Barney Miller, The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, General Hospital, Good Morning America, and The Carol Burnett Show.

His Hollywood celebrity list includes Diahann Carrol, Dorothy Lamour, Olivia Newton-John, Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Becall, Bette Midler, and Carol Burnett. While beauty and character make-up were his bread and butter, Mr. Blasco's fascination with three-dimensional make-up effects led him to develop prosthetic creations for such films as: Garden of Eden; Albert Einstein…The Man Behind the Genius; Leonardo da Vinci; Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS; Werewolf of Woodstock; and David Cronenburg's They Came From Within.

Eager to pursue his goal of passing on the secrets of Hollywood's make-up legacy to the next generations of aspiring make-up artists, he was encouraged in 1976 by the famed television journalist Rona Barrett to open the Joe Blasco Make-up Training Center West in Hollywood, California.

The success of this school led to the opening in 1991 of a second location, the Joe Blasco Make-up Training Center East in Orlando, Florida. Many of his former students have gone on to illustrious careers of their own.

After the school became recognized around the world, Mr. Blasco set out to create a cosmetics firm that would manufacture products to satisfy all facets of make-up application. The Joe Blasco Cosmetics line was introduced to the public in 1983. Today, this cosmetic line has retail outlets all over the world.

Mr. Blasco’s presentation was highly entertaining and informative. After graciously accepting his award, he proudly introduced his assistant for the day, Mr. Mungle (also one of his most successful students), and his two models. As Mr. Blasco told stories from his life and career (supported by images projected onto one of two large projection screens), Mr. Mungle began the application process of a multi-piece gelatin prosthetic. (He is highly regarded for perfecting this process.)

The nearly 500 attendees, through the use of a large screen video projection onto the second screen, viewed every detail of this make-up application. Near the end of the session, Mr. Blasco created two quick and amazingly effective make-ups: one fashion; the other cuts and bruises. Mr. Mungle, to everyone’s delight, sent his model into the crowd for closer inspection.

The Saturday evening Awards Banquet was attended by over 70 of Mr. Blasco’s friends and associates. It was a veritable Who’s Who of the Hollywood make-up industry, including the great Vincent Kehoe, Academy Award-winner Gregg Cannom, and the brilliant Ed French (his video on making and applying bald caps is excellent).

For more information on Joe Blasco, Joe Blasco Cosmetics, and the Joe Blasco Make-up Centers go to

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Joe Blasco’s appearance at the 2004 Annual Conference & Stage Expo was filled with wit, and demonstrated the special understanding of his craft for which he was honored.

Photo/Jeffrey Fiala