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Late Sayre man worked as a Hollywood make-up artist
SAYRE – Sayre native Charles Blackman made a long journey to Hollywood and along the way met movie stars, presidents and the Rev. Billy Graham.
CAPTION: Hollywood make-up artist Charles Blackman, a Sayre native, and his wife Gloria are the subject of a feature story in the Sayre Historical Society spring Quarterly.
His story, based on a 1993 interview recorded just after he retired, appears in the spring issue of the Sayre Historical Society Quarterly. Blackman passed away on March 7, 2016.
Other items in the Spring Quarterly include a story and photograph of a Fourth of July parade in Sayre featuring a scale model of a Lehigh Valley Railroad steam locomotive, a 1975 photograph of the Robert Packer Hospital, an account of Dr. Donald Guthrie on the occasion of his 30th anniversary in Sayre, and a photograph showing World War I Red Cross volunteers in Sayre.
The Quarterly, published four times a year, is mailed to historical society members as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available at Carl’s News Stand in Sayre and the historical society museum located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Station in downtown Sayre. The museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 5 to 7. A new exhibit titled “Answering the Call: A History of Firefighting in Sayre” opened April 1 and will run until September 6. Admission is free.
The illustrated feature story covers the life of the former Sayre resident who entered a “Draw Me” contest in the local newspaper and moved to California.
“I won the contest so I thought we were going to right to Hollywood but I got there and it was all filled up and I couldn’t possibly start until maybe six months to a year,” Blackman said. He then attended UCLA and following graduation started working as an apprentice under legendary Columbia Pictures make-up Clay Campbell. Blackman’s career as a Hollywood make-up artist covered 50 years.
While he worked on movies with such stars as Clark Gable, Charleton Heston and Marilyn Monroe, Blackman also was introduced to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Rev. Billy Graham at a golf tournament in Palm Springs. Over the years, Blackman attended annual Crusades that featured over the years ten American presidents.
“It was really something for me and I enjoyed being with Billy because I stayed with him for 25 years,” Blackman said. “Whenever he would go on a Crusade, he’d call and ask me to go. The Crusade probably would run 10 days and he would do maybe three Crusades a year, so no matter what I was doing, I’d always make time.”
Blackman, whose wife Gloria was also a make-up artist, worked on television shows and commercials as well as movies. Photographs included with the story show Blackman with actors James Garner and Charlton Heston. The pictures were provided courtesy of Chris Shaffer of S. Waverly, who is related to Blackman’s wife. Blackman’s father was Fred Blackman, an electrician with the Lehigh Valley Railroad and his mother was the former Helen Shaffer whose four brothers included Charlie, Clarence, Bob and Diddie Shaffer.
The Fourth of July parade story includes a 1908 photograph showing the model steam locomotive numbered 1776. The story, provided courtesy of Richard Palmer of Syracuse, N.Y., said the engine and floats were inspired by shop superintendent A.W. Whitford.
“The miniature engine was the one big hit of the parade,” the article stated. “It was numbered 1776, and was an exact model of the 1552 of J-25 class passenger engines. The engine was connected to the back wheel of the wagon with a belt and for every turn of the wagon the engine drivers revolved twice.”
The Robert Packer Hospital photograph is pictured in the center section of the Quarterly and is from the collection of the late Harry (Bud) Patterson, a former Sayre resident.
Dr. Donald Guthrie is recalled in an article that appeared in the Oct. 2, 1941 issue of the Valley Recorder newspaper.
“A strict adherent to the code of medical ethics, Dr. Guthrie has sometimes been a stumbling block for newspapermen in search of human interest stories,” the article stated. “During his many years that he has headed the Robert Packer Hospital there have been countless cases that could furnish material to give the limelight to any news hawk. But Dr. Guthrie has consistently held that, in most of these cases, the facts should be made to the medical profession and the medical profession only.”
A 1932 four-page program on George Washington staged by Sayre High School students is also reproduced in the Quarterly. The program was donated by James Nobles of Sayre.
The Sayre Canteen photograph, donated by Sarah Harrington of Cranford, N.J., includes Mrs. Harrington’s maternal grandmother, Sarah (Lennon) McMahon and other Red Cross volunteers. Mrs. Harrington also donated a Red Cross uniform worn by her grandmother and a 1919 booklet containing the names of local World War I veterans.
The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers and a recipient of United Way funding.
Sayre museum reopening with “Answering the Call!”
Answering the Call - April 1 to September 1, 2017