The recent Academy Awards reminded me of a bit of trivia that I’ve had rolling around in my head for many, many years.
I have been a big fan of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey since I saw it in the theater in 1968 when I was 13 years old. I believe I managed to see it in the theater two or three times, an unprecedented event for me (and has rarely, if ever, happened since).
In 1970 the book The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 came out. I bought it promptly. There are a couple of pages devoted to the efforts required to make men look like ape for the opening sequence of the movie. At the end is a quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “2001 did not win the Academy Award for makeup because judges may not have realized apes were actors.” For a few decades I remembered that with the small addition that the award for make-up went to Planet of the Apes. It turns out that the Best Makeup category did not exist until 1981.
But Planet of the Apes “was given a Special Honorary Oscar for John Chambers’ ground-breaking, outstanding makeup.” Perhaps this is what Clarke was referencing.
For those who may not remember what 2001’s apes looked like (the baby apes are real):
That makeup leaves the apes in Planet of the Apes looking very bad indeed.
Another bit of trivia that I learned from The Making of… is that “in the middle of Absolutely Nowhere, Africa, the 2001 car ran into an oncoming truck and two of the photographers were injured.” I have cited this in conversation once or twice in my life when someone observed that a certain driver was safe because there was no traffic where he or she was driving. The car of photographers was in Africa taking pics to use for the backgrounds of the ape sequence that was filmed in the studio in England.