Some thoughts about John Chambers from one of APEMANIA's own:
"As a youth, watching John Chambers' work in film make-up was what truly kicked my interest of pursuing special effects make-up as a career into full-geer.

I had dabbled a bit with monster make-up for fun prior to seeing Planet of the Apes, but once having seen it, I was fascinated by the make-ups and how believable the characters were.  From that point on, I was hooked.

Many of my peers will say the same thing, that the make-ups in Planet of the Apes were the deciding factor in influencing them to pursue careers in the make-up effects industry.  Growing up, we always kept an eye out for anything Chambers was involved in.  Films, tv shows, anything in books and magazines, we couldn't get enough of!  We had a hunger to know what the "grand master" was up to next.  There is no doubt that he has inspired a generation of make-up artists because of his incredible work.

And his influence has not been limited to my generation.  Even now, I get e-mail and letters from fans all over the world (half my age), representing a new generation of make-up artist and effects technicians who also credit Chambers as being the man who's work has inspired them to "get into" prosthetic make-ups.

Many people know that John's gift to film was great, but many may not know that he was also a hero outside of the film world.  John was a veteran of the armed forces and in the 1970's, during the Iranian hostage crisis, the CIA approached John to help them try and get Americans out of Iran.  John set up a fictitious film production company and was able to, from what I understand, set up new identities and disguise 6 americans who were holed up in the Canadian Embassy in Iran, and smuggled them out safely during the turbulent anti-American days of that crisis.  Real Mission Impossible stuff!!!

John had many sides to his career and life.  I only got to meet and know John in the last few years of his life and he really was a remarkable person.  Always happy to have visitors and tell stories, I enjoyed every visit with him.   When we first met, just before Scott Essman organized his 75th birthday party in 1997, the doctors had given John less than a year to live.  Thanx to the publicity from that the party, John received new exposure resulting in friends and fans from all over the world re-discovering or discovering for the first time who this man really was and what he had done for so many.  You should have seen his room transform from bare walls to a shrine of gifts and fan letters in the years that followed the party.  It was amazing!  And I know he appreciated it.

John  said to me on many occasions that he was very VERY thankful for all that we did for him with that party, and that was evident in seeing him embrace a new lease on life.  He got away from the hospital/home for the first time in years and started making public appearances again.  It was so refreshing to see him "out and about".   I am happy to know that I had a small part to play in all of that.

And I am happy to have known the man who I am so indebted to for his influence on my life and career.

God Bless and Thank you, John.

Brian Penikas
Creative Director for 
Make-up & Monsters Studios


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