Fama says winners feel especially honored by recognition from their peers

The people behind the looks of the stars will don glamour garb themselves and take centerstage March 17 for the second annual Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards at the Century Plaza Hotel.

The black-tie event was started last year to raise the status of hair and makeup professionals.

“We’re letting everyone know we’re more than powder puffs and lip gloss,” says Al Fama, chairman of the guild’s awards committee.

While actors and actresses live in the limelight, hair and makeup artists are often the unseen creative forces behind a celebrity’s trendsetting locks and flawless look. Fama says the awards credit such artists who are making stars screen-ready day in and day out.

In addition to 22 category awards, the George Westmore Lifetime Achievement honors will be awarded to makeup artist Bob Schiffer and the late legendary film hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff.

Westmore founded the first motion picture makeup and hair styling department in Hollywood, at the Selig Studios in 1917.

Schiffer, who started as a makeup man in 1932, worked on such films as “Camelot” (which he says he remembers the most fondly), “Annie Oakley,” “Mutiny on the Bounty,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and “Cleopatra.”

He has used blush and color on such luminaries as Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable, Barbara Stanwyk, Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The origination of the prolific 1940s look — red lips and thin, manicured eyebrows — is generally credited to Schiffer.

Mechanical, monster makeup was Schiffer’s first love, but he has enjoyed spending his career within whispering distance of Hollywood’s most beautiful women. He is now head of the makeup and hairdressing department at Disney.

Guilaroff was the first screen-credited Hollywood hairstylist and worked on hundreds of films during his career. He was sought after by Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe and Lana Turner, and is credited with masterminding trendsetting movie star hairstyles, including trading Lucille Ball’s brown hair for her trademark orange.

“He was the epitome of the gentle hairstylist who had tea with the stars every day at 4 o’clock on the set,” says Schiffer, who worked on some of the same sets as Guilaroff through the years. “He was a clever artist and did beautiful work.”

New to the event this year is the Barrymore Award, saluting an actor or actress whose body of work has had a profound impact on the artistry of hair and makeup in the entertainment industry. Drew Barrymore will accept the inaugural honor, named for her multigenerational Hollywood family.

Over a thousand stars, showbiz pros and guests will attend. Among them, Joan Allen, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ed Harris, Susan Sarandon, Martin Short, Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton will applaud the men and women they rely on for picture-perfect looks. Presenters include Ellen Burstyn, Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Candice Bergen and Angie Dickenson.

Submissions were accepted this year from members as well as from studios and production companies and were voted on by guild members. Fama says winners feel especially honored by recognition from their peers, since no one knows good work better than other hair or makeup artists.

The production of the event is a labor of love for Fama and the 12-member awards committee. Fama is the only full-time staffer and, as for budget, “we don’t have one,” he says. “We rob Peter to pay Paul and get it done because it’s important.”

The Oscars and Emmys have a category for makeup, but the statues often go to creators of special effects makeup. The guild’s awards honor members’ achievements in those areas, but most awards are for the creation of natural hair and makeup that the majority of films and TV demand.

Awards will be given for best contemporary, period and special effects makeup, and best contemporary, period and innovative hairstyles for feature films, TV series, and miniseries-telepics. Best makeup and hairstyle awards also will be presented in theatrical-stage and TV commercial categories.

The event’s writer-producer is Ken Shapiro, director is Chris Donovan, and executive producers are Michael Russell and Stephen LoCascio.

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