Be a Character Actor (Dec, 1933)

Be a Character Actor
Here’s the Makeup Successful character acting depends on skillful use of grease paint and a study of the character to be portrayed.

On the left the actor is making up to take the part of a negro comedian. On the right the completed happy-go-lucky, ever smiling “negro” is ready for the stage.

Burnt cork in paste form is rubbed on the face, except for a wide area around the mouth which forms the everlasting smile. White grease paint, supplied in large sticks and rubbed into this area makes the mouth stand out. The white stick used under the eyes gives them that twinkling expression.

Above to the left the actor is putting on wrinkles and other lines with small tubes of color, called “liners.” In center the country boy is made up of flesh color grease paint, over a layer of cold cream, and a little red “liner” rubbed into the cheeks and on the lips. Black “block out” wax produces the missing tooth. The comedy farmer on the right is made up with a ruddy ground tone lined with blue on the forehead, around the mouth and the corners of eyes. Eyebrows are bushed out with white paint.

Deep blue lines and blue color, well rubbed in the cheeks to give them a sallow appearance, produced the miser on the left. The lines of the mouth are widened with liner on a pointed match stick.

The half-bald Irish wig on the character to the right is slipped on the head and the joining on the forehead hidden with a thick application of grease paint.

Cold cream forms the basis of makeup. The “ground tone” grease paint, which comes in sticks, is rubbed over it. When the makeup is complete, powder dusted over it will remove the shine. False whiskers are attached with spirit gum.

  1. Eamon says: November 11, 20081:30 am

    I see he plays both blacks and Irish. Classy. I’d say he was getting ready for the Klan’s Halloween party except that he does hillbilly too.

  2. fluffy says: November 11, 20083:49 am

    Yet another article that’s completely relevant to today as well! I can’t wait to try this!

  3. StanFlouride says: November 11, 20089:51 am

    75 years before this African-Americans could be property.
    75 years after this African-Americans could be President.

  4. Jerry says: November 11, 200812:20 pm

    This reminds me of a line the black comedian Dick Gregory used on white audiences in the 1960s:

    “Wouldn’t be a shame if this was just burnt cork and y’all were being tolerant for nothing?”

  5. Rick Auricchio says: November 11, 20081:04 pm

    Stan, that’s a wonderful observation.

  6. John M. Hanna says: November 11, 20086:17 pm

    How proud this guys grandchildren must be.

  7. Toronto says: November 11, 20086:41 pm

    In the 1970s, a farming magazine my grandfather subscribed to had two kids in blackface on the cover. The Apple Blossom parade was coming up, and Grampa wanted my sister and I to make up like that and ride his haywagon.

    Fortunately, Dad stepped in and said “No way.”

    Stan: Excellent line. You too, Jerry.

  8. Steve says: November 12, 20089:26 pm

    As bad as the blackface is… that guy on the lower right is freaking me out a little. 🙂

  9. Torgo says: November 13, 200812:07 am

    And this is modern and mechanical in what way exactly?

  10. fluffy says: November 13, 200812:11 am

    Torgo, you must be new here. Why not read some of the site’s archives?

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