Sandy Burman, Matriarch of a Family of Hollywood Makeup FX Artists, Dies at 76

Sandy Burman - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Rob and Barney Burman

She owned a materials supply warehouse for those in the special effects industries and helped out on films including 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' and 'Teen Wolf.'

Sandy Burman, the former owner of Burman Industries, a leading supplier of materials for special effects and makeup artists in Hollywood, has died. She was 76.

Burman died Monday after a battle with multiple sclerosis at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Calif., son Barney Burman told The Hollywood Reporter. He won a makeup Oscar for Star Trek (2009), and her other son, Robert Burman, is a makeup FX artist, sculptor and teacher.

After a divorce from future Oscar-nominated makeup artist Thomas R. Burman (Scrooged), Burman launched her own business with a single product, the newly christened "Burman Foam Latex," in the mid-1980s. The company expanded into Burman Industries in Van Nuys, the first of its kind.

Oscar-winners John Caglione Jr. and Doug Drexler built all the prosthetic makeup for Dick Tracy (1990) in the back of her store, and the makeup FX for A Nightmare on Elm St. 3 (1987) was also created there.

She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992 and sold the business a decade later.

Born Sandra Lee Hoerber in Burbank on Aug. 14, 1943, she attended James Monroe High School and learned to play the accordion. At age 18, she married Thomas R. Burman, who was just starting out as a makeup artist in the 20th Century Fox apprenticeship program. (His father, Ellis Burman, did special effects for Lon Chaney Jr.'s The Wolf Man.)

When her husband and John Chambers (of Planet of the Apes fame) opened what would become the Burman Studio — the first makeup studio outside of the Hollywood studio system — in 1971, she served as a secretary, purchasing agent and social coordinator, helping to grow that business.

She worked in a more official capacity there from 1977 to 1985 and contributed to such films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Prophecy (1979), Heaven's Gate (1980), Cat People (1982), Body Double (1984), Goonies (1985) and Teen Wolf (1985).

In recent years, Burman rediscovered her love of collecting and building miniature doll houses, shadow boxes and vignettes. Her masterpiece was a reproduction of a San Francisco Victorian-style house that boasted removable staircases and a working electrical system.

In addition to her sons, survivors include her mother, Marie, and her brothers, Thomas, Richard and Robert.