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SYFY WIRE Planet of the Apes

Dan Striepeke, makeup artist for Planet of the Apes and Mission: Impossible TV show, dead at 88

By Josh Weiss
Dan Striepeke

Dan Striepeke, an Oscar-winning makeup artist for iconic genre films and television, has passed away at the age of 88.

Striepeke was known for his work on the early Planet of the Apes movies as well as the Mission: Impossible TV series that inspired the Tom Cruise-featured movies. Per The Hollywood Reporter, he was instrumental in the creation of the "peel-off" M:I masks that have become such a staple of the multimillion-dollar franchise.

His death was confirmed on Facebook by Emmy-winning makeup artist Michael Key.

"Dan Striepeke, one of the most respected artists in Hollywood has passed away," wrote Key, whose onscreen credits include Jingle All the Way and Batman & Robin. "Dan was head of the makeup and hair department at 20th Century Fox, the HOD of many movies such as Forrest Gump, MASH, and Patton. He was heavily involved with the original Planet of the Apes movies and Island of Dr. Moreau. Dan was Tom Hanks personal makeup artist for many years. He was the cover story for issue #4 of Make-Up Artist magazine. I received great advice and wisdom from Dan in the early years of my company that was very valuable. He was a special man. R.I.P."

Dan Striepeke, one of the most respected artists in Hollywood has passed away. Dan was head of the makeup and hair...

Posted by Michael Key on Friday, January 18, 2019

During his many collaborations with Tom Hanks, Striepeke worked on such famous movies as Forrest Gump (1994), Apollo 13 (1995), The Green Mile (1999), and The Da Vinci Code (2006).

"Most civilians — people who don't make movies for a living — think makeup men are little more than hovering sprites who powder noses," wrote Hanks in a 2006 op-ed for The New York Times. "But they are true artists, often unsung, who imprint films with the soft touch of their brushes and the hard work of their craft. Their creation, which will be examined on the big screen for as many years as the film holds its audience, is the most physical manifestation of an actor's interpretation of his role."

Hanks's own son, Colin (also an actor), posted about Striepeke's death on Twitter, writing:

"Just found out about the passing of Dan Striepeke. Never met a kinder man in my life. A Giant in the world of the 'Make-up Department.' He will be sorely missed. Here is a nice piece the old man wrote about him a while back: The Man Who Aged Me."

Born in California in October of 1930, Striepeke's prolific makeup career began as an assistant on projects like Cecil B. DeMille's remake of The Ten Commandments. In the late 1960s, he took over as the head of 20th Century Fox's makeup department, which created the humanoid simians in The Planet of the Apes (1968). The film's main makeup designer, John Chambers, ended up taking home the Oscar for his work on the classic Charlton Heston feature, but Striepke still contributed in a big way.

According to James C. Udel's 2013 book, The Film Crew of Hollywood, he "sculpted individual chin pieces that married perfectly to the face components, resulting in a fit that allowed articulated speech."

Some of Striepeke's other notable genre projects include: The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) and Harry and the Hendersons (1987).