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Ron Berkeley, an Emmy-winning makeup artist who worked with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor on such films as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Taming of the Shrew, has died. He was 86.
Berkeley died May 9 at the Motion Picture & Television Country Home in Woodland Hills, his family announced.
Berkeley was Burton’s makeup guy on about two dozen projects, also including Staircase (1969), Bluebeard (1972), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), Equus (1977), The Wild Geese (1978) and the 1980s TV series Wagner.
In addition to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Taming of the Shrew (1967), Berkeley worked with the actor and his on-again/off-again wife on Boom! (1968) and Hammersmith Is Out (1972). He also did makeup for Taylor on several of her features, including Giant (1956), Raintree County (1957) and Night Watch (1973).
Vicky Tiel, a costumer designer who once was married to Berkeley, wrote in 2012 that Berkeley did makeup on the George Pal film 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) and deserved the Oscar nomination that went to William Tuttle, his boss at MGM.
“In early Hollywood, only the head of each department in the studio got screen credit. The actual person who did the work never got the credit,” she wrote. “When Ron mentioned this to Elizabeth [Taylor], she screamed, ‘Not fair!’ and, ever the activist, she got the Academy rules changed.
“Ron was the first actual makeup man to get credit for a film he did,” Tiel claimed. “Ever since Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the individual makeup and fashion designers get the credit, not just Bill Tuttle or Edith Head.”
Berkeley’s film résumé also includes The Time Machine (1960), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), JFK (1991), The Doors (1991), Chaplin (1992), Scrooged (1988), For the Boys (1991), Mad Dog Time (1996), The Truman Show (1998), Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) and Horsemen (2009).
He received Emmy noms for four straight years (1996-99) for his work on Tracey Ullman’s HBO series Tracey Takes On …, winning in 1997.
Survivors include his children, Ronda, Rex, Ani and Richard, grandchildren Lucie and Roman and sister Constance.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.
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