705 founder worked on 'Wizard of Oz,' 'The Birds'
Howard Smit, makeup artist who worked on films including “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Birds” and helped establish the Oscar for makeup, died Aug. 1 in Tarzana, Calif. He was 98.
Smit was a founding member in 1937 of IATSE local 706, Make-up and Hairstylists Guild, and remained active in the union for nearly 60 years until his retirement in 1994.
One of his early jobs was in the make-up department of 1939 pics “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gunga Din.” He worked on a number of Westerns and other features through the 1940s and ’50s, doing make-up for stars including Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Mitchum, Roy Rogers and Joan Crawford. In the early ’60s, he was make-up artist for Alfred Hitchcock on both “The Birds” and “Marnie.” He later worked on the TV series “Mod Squad.”
Smit served two terms as president of the local, and as business representative and member of the executive board, he helped spearhead the crusade in the early 1950s that led to acquiring pension, health and welfare benefits for make-up artists and hairstylists.
Along with John Inzerella, Smit was responsible for requiring studios to give screen credit for make-up artists and hair stylists, and campaigned to convince the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences to establish the make-up award. The Make-up and Hairstylists Guild Guild created the Smitty award in his honor.
He was also a Governor in the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences and also served as a director for the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Fund.
In 1986, Smit was shot at after a board meeting; the makeup artist who fired at him later shot two police officers. After recovering from the shooting, he served the guild for another eight years.
His wife of more than 40 years, Edith, was a body makeup artist; his second wife, Isabelle, died on June 26.