Going Green on Screen
Perhaps “it isn’t easy being green,” but it can be a marvelous career move. Here are some actors who were a hit in green makeup.
MARGARET HAMILTON played the cackling Wicked Witch of the West, tormentor of Judy Garland‘s Dorothy in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. But the role almost cost Hamilton her career: during one of the witch’s puff-of-smoke exits, Hamilton’s copper-based makeup caught fire and nearly burned her to a crisp. After weeks of recuperation, the plucky Hamilton returned to the studio and finished filming the role that made her famous.(Hamilton wasn’t the only actor to suffer a makeup attack while filming Oz. Dancer Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the Tin Man, but after 10 days he was replaced by Jack Haley. Why? Ebsen was painfully allergic to the aluminum makeup. In the long run Ebsen’s career wasn’t singed: he went on to star on the TV shows The Beverly Hillbillies andBarnaby Jones.)
JIM CARREY donned lime-green face paint to beat the bad guys and woo Cameron Diaz in the 1994 comedy The Mask. Carrey played Stanley Ipkiss, a nebbish who was magically transformed into a charismatic wild man whenever he put on a mysterious ancient mask. Besides supernatural powers and a greenish glow, the mask also gave Carrey huge white teeth and the chin of Kirk Douglas.Never one to do things by halves, Carrey went green again in 2000, donning a hairy body suit to take the title role in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, a big-budget film version of the classic Dr. Seuss tale.
Batgirl unmasked and green? Indeed. In 1967-68 YVONNE CRAIG wore cape and cowl as the saucy pink-skinned Batgirl on the TV series Batman. The next year she had a one-shot role as Marta, the Orion-born temptress of Captain Kirk on the TV series Star Trek. (The episode in quesion is “Whom Gods Destroy.”) Hot-tempered and wild-eyed, Marta showed more green leg than Kermit the Frog, and her seductive dance for Kirk left its mark on the psyche of many an adolescent male viewer. “Whom Gods Destroy” was one of the last episodes of the original Star Trek, which finished its run just a few months later.Craig was actually the second dancing green slave girl to appear on the series. In the early episode “The Menagerie,” guest star SUSAN OLIVER appeared in one sequence as Vina, an exotic temptress who shimmies her green dermis for Capt. Christopher Pike. Counting both Oliver and Craig, that makes a ratio of one green-skinned vamp per every 40 Trekepisodes.
Another big-budget Hollywood greenie: WILLEM DAFOE. In 2002 he chewed the furniture as arch-villain Green Goblin in the action flick Spider-Man, with heartthrob Tobey Maguire as the webslinger. (Including Dafoe is a bit of a stretch here, honestly — the comic book Green Goblin has green skin, but in the film Dafoe merely wears a suit of green body armor.)
LOU FERRIGNO was a champion bodybuilder who appeared with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1977 film Pumping Iron. In 1978 Ferrigno hit the green gravy train when he was cast in the TV series The Incredible Hulk. Bill Bixby played brainy human-colored scientist Dr. David Banner; when Banner got riled up, he would burst his buttons and transform into the raging green Hulk, played by a muscled-up Ferrigno.