Fred Phillips adjusting Susan Oliver's makeup on the set of "The Cage"

Fred Phillips: The Makeup Man

Fred Phillips adjusting Susan Oliver's makeup on the set of "The Cage"
Fred Phillips adjusting Susan Oliver’s makeup on the set of “The Cage”

Frederick Beauregard Phillips was the right man for the right job at the right time. It was a Monday morning on a summer day in 1966 at Desilu Studios in Hollywood. Fred Phillips, makeup artist for the new Star Trek series, sat in his one room makeup department, sipping coffee. As was his usual procedure, he began his day by looking over several new story outlines for future episodes, which had been placed in his mail tray sometime over the weekend.

Fred smiled and murmured to himself, “Solow, Coon, Roddenberry, and Justman are working over time again.” Suddenly, Fred lowered his coffee cup and reread a few lines from two of the outlines. He quickly grabbed a pad of paper and a pencil and wrote down several words: “Klingon — Romulan — alien races — conceptualize them — design them — make them.” And knowing the Star Trek production world, he added, “fast.”

But for the man who in 1927, with a flour and water paste, applied eyelashes one by one to the stars of Cecil B. DeMille’s film King of Kings; for the man who in 1931 made up Frederic March for the original Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; for the man who in 1967 turned actors into primates for The Plantes of the Apes; and for the man who made up the stars of over one hundred films, it was just another day at the office.

Phillips would leave the freelance world behind and return to Star Trek to be in charge of the makeup on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He was asked to repeat his makeup role for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Due to his failing eyesight and his problems with depth perception, Phillips was forced to turn down the offer. It was the major disappointment of his life. Shortly thereafter, Fred Phillips retired from active participation in the film and television industries. On August 20, 1983, he received the lifetime achievement award for makeup from the Society of Operating Cameramen. He died on March 21, 1993.

From Herbert F., Yvonne Fern Solow, Star Trek Sketchbook (1997)

One thought on “Fred Phillips: The Makeup Man

  1. I believe you’ve mistaken Phillips with John Chambers, who was the head make-up artist on Planet of the Apes, and who worked with him on The Outer Limits and on The Cage (designing Spock’s ears). Phillips wouldn’t have time to work on POTA anyways, as it was shot simultaneously with the second season of Star Trek.

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