The decades-long practice of issuing an Academy Award for Best Makeup owes much, if not everything, to makeup wizard William Tuttle. Assigned to work with actor Tony Randall and director George Pal on Pal's fantasy film 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1963), Tuttle effectively created six unique alter egos for Randall -- from that of a deadly Medusa to a seductive Pan. Tuttle's work on that picture so dazzled the industry that Academy members insisted on the bequeathal of a special honorary award to him. It marked one of only two instances of that occurring prior to 1981, when the Academy institutionalized the Best Makeup Award.
Outside of Lao, Tuttle enjoyed a 35-year career at Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, where he perfected innovative makeup techniques -- with a gift for special makeup effects -- and educated many an apprentice in the same arena, including the legendary Rick Baker. Tuttle's additional credits (which encompass dozens of films) include a multi-episode stint on The Twilight Zone and such pictures as Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), The Americanization of Emily (1964), Point Blank (1967), and Silver Streak (1976). Off-camera accomplishments include developing a line of cosmetics widely used by industry insiders and creating a time-saving method of applying the same makeup to actors time and again by using plaster masks. Tuttle died at age 95 in July 2007, of complications related to old age.