Ben Nye Sr., one of Hollywood's better known makeup artists whose prosthetics ranged from an aged face for Irene Dunne as Queen Victoria to the weird mutants in such films as "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," died Sunday in Santa Monica. He was 79.
Nye, who after retiring as head of makeup from 20th Century Fox in 1967, launched his own line of theatrical makeup.
He came to Hollywood from his native Nebraska essentially to seek a career in art. However, he found himself at the old Fox studio in 1932, making photostatic copies of sheet music. He became a makeup apprentice three years later and worked with David O. Selznick on such films as "Rebecca" and "Gone With the Wind," before returning in 1944 to what is now 20th Century Fox.
At 20th Century Fox, he worked on more than 500 films, among them "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "South Pacific," "Cleopatra," "The Sound of Music" and "The Planet of the Apes."
Nye leaves his wife, Barbara, and two sons, Ben Jr. and Dana, both makeup artists.