ANDY KAUFMAN
RESTORED!

THE ANDY KAUFMAN RESTORATION PROCESS...At the April 2009 Profiles in History Auction, Wally was the high bidder on a historic lot from the Stan Winston Studios, which featured 3 life-like busts of the main characters from the 1981 movie "Heartbeeps." A prototype for the robot character Catskills, a prototype for the character Aqua (played by Bernadette Peters), and a prototype for the character Val (played by Andy Kaufman) were all included in the set. This set into motion a brand new series of events which would have Wally updating his Kaufman collection to all-new heights! Here's the history of events...

HEARTBEEPS...
In the late 90's, Wally acquired one of Andy Kaufman's original Val costumes from a private collector. The brown lame jacket, with hand-stitched pinstriping was still in relatively good condition, even though it had lost some of its original shine and luster. The pants were in similar condition, and both needed to be restored. When the costumes were constructed originally, it was apparent that a layer of foam-rubber was sewn into the lining of the costumes to pad out Andy's physique and make him appear more android-like. Over the years, the foam-rubber deteriorated into fine granules, and settled in the base of the lining of the jacket and pants. Wally hired a seamstress to delicately open up the bottom seams of the costumes to extract all of the granules, which looked a lot like old coffee grounds. Once the costumes were free of the residue, the seams were restitched.

It's worthy of note, that the costume in this collection contains the "pre-bear attack jacket" and the "post-bear attack pants." In the film, Val wanders into a bear's cave and is attacked. Tears in the right knee of the pants, and the left shoulder of the jacket result. Though the pants in Wally's collection have the rip in the knee, complete with a variety of circuits, wires and tubing protruding forth, the jacket has no such damage. It's also worthy of note that the square buttons have been removed from the jacket, as have the little touches of added-on circuitry on the sleeve. This was done prior to Wally purchasing the costume.

Years later, at a Profiles in History auction, Wally was able to acquire Andy's original Val bow-tie, complete with several grain-of-wheat bulbs lining pieces of small metal tubing. In the film, the grain-of-wheat bulbs actually lit up, but they no longer seem functional. Wally put the bowtie with the jacket and pants and made it into a stunning display behind Plexiglas in Planet Wallywood.

In 2008 at a Stan Winston tribute, which was part of the International Make-Up Artists Tradeshow in Burbank, California, Wally got to view the original prototype heads for the three "Heartbeeps" robots. Wally had always been searching for an Andy Kaufman lifecast, but was told that only two existed. One was done by Bob Zmuda when Andy was appearing regularly as Tony Clifton. It was the lifemask that the Tony Clifton appliances were sculpted on to. The second was done by the Stan Winston Studios for the "Heartbeeps" movie. Zmuda had told Wally that the Clifton lifemask was his personal gift to "Man On the Moon" director Milos Forman, and was no longer accessible. Though Wally repeatedly tried to contact the Stan Winston Studios to investigate the whereabouts of the "Heartbeeps" lifemask, he came up with no leads.

MIGHTY MOUSE, ET AL...
In 2001, Wally was able to acquire Andy's original "performance" costume, consisting of Andy's trademark checkered blazer, blue oxford shirt, black turtleneck sweater, white jeans and white Converse tennis shoes. Andy has appeared in this ensemble literally thousands of times. It became his trademark style throughout his career, as this costume saw action on Andy's PBS special "Soundstage," his ABC special, his legendary Carnegie Hall concert, and when he appeared on the very first episode of "Saturday Night Live" in 1975 performing Mighty Mouse. Many of Andy's early publicity photos show him wearing this ensemble. When Andy wasn't performing in his Hawaiian conga shirt, his I Love Grandma shirt, his Elvis costume, his Tony Clifton tuxedo or his pink Foreign Man blazer, chances are Andy was wearing this very costume.

After the acquisition, a mannequin was customized to resemble Andy, and then dressed in the original costume. A custom display case was constructed so the exhibit would be kept safe behind glass. A sound chip was placed in the exhibit, so that part of the "Mighty Mouse" theme (complete with original SNL Don Pardo introduction) would play at the touch of a button. But the mannequin just didn't look enough like Andy, and Wally searched and searched for an Andy Kaufman lifemask to make the display complete.



THE PROJECT...
At the April 2009 Profiles in History Auction, Wally was the high bidder for the very same busts from "Heartbeeps" that he had seen a year previous at the Make-Up Artists' Tradeshow. Stan Winston The Val and Aqua head were very life-like, complete with fake eyelashes and glass eyes. In fact, a small knob at the base of Val's neck would make the bust's eyes move back and forth when the knob was turned.

Once the treasures had been brought home, Wally was closely examining the head of Andy's character Val. The piercing green/blue glass eyes in the bust were haunting! He noticed that the glue that kept the sculpted robot hair fastened to the head was old and cracking off. He then noticed that the hair could be removed completely. Then he noticed that the rubber-like prosthetics were starting to come off in places as well. The prosthetic piece on the entire back of the head came off. The prosthetic nose piece was lifting up as well. When Wally lifted up the nose piece, he saw a human-like nose underneath. Just then Wally started to suspect that underneath the robot make-up, Andy's lifemask most likely existed.

Brian Chanes from Profiles in History had shown Wally a page in the book 'The Winston Effect" that featured the Winston sculptor creating the robot prosthetics on Andy's lifemask. Wally knew then and there that the Andy Kaufman lifemask was most certainly underneath the Val appliances on his newly acquired bust!

At the Monsterpalooza convention in May of 2009, Wally ran into make-up and effects man Jim Ojala. Jim had worked for Wally's old friend Robert Hall, at his Almost Human Special Effects studio a few years back. Then, Jim and Wally met to look over the Andy bust in detail. It was agreed that Jim would delicately remove all of the Val robot appliances to reveal what was underneath. After a few days of work, Jim e-mailed Wally to let him know it was indeed Andy's lifemask, complete with facial moles! It was a dream come true!



Wally and Jim conferred again, and it was decided that Jim would strike a high-quality negative silicone mold of this lifemask. Once finished, a fiberglass replica of Andy's lifemask would be fabricated, adding glass eyes, a wig, sideburns, eyelashes and eyebrows. Of course, Jim would also add a life-like paint job to make it seem even more realistic. When the head is finished, it will be added to the mannequin displaying Andy's performance costume. Naturally, the other head will need to be removed so it can be replaced with Andy's regenerated lifemask. Jim will also repaint the mannequin's hands to match the skin tone of his face.

Once the original Stan Winston lifemask is molded and restored to its original condition, Jim will reattach the fake eyelashes, and repaint the copper colored tone around Andy's eyes to match the original prosthetics. Jim will also reset the lifemask's glass eyes, since some of the original mechanics which allowed the eyes to move back and forth have gone into disrepair. Then the original "Heartbeeps" prosthetics will be delicately re-applied to the Winston lifemask. When that is finished, the restored Val head will be added to another mannequin that will be dressed in the original Val costume. Both Andy mannequins will be on display in Planet Wallywood. It's anticipated that by mid-summer, this project will be ready for the unveiling.

June 21 - 2009 -

To create the robot hands for the "Val" display, the mannequin's hands are covered by a two-part molding compound called Magic Sculpt. Once the two parts of the compound are joined together, the putty can be applied to the hands and sculpted into the appropriate shapes. Water can be used to smooth the putty where it's needed. Once the putty is allowed to dry overnight, it becomes firm and sandable.

Since sculpting between the mannequin's fingers is quite difficult, only one finger on each hand is sculpted per night. That way each finger is allowed to fully cure before another is sculpted, which cuts down on the possibility of accidentally marring the sculpture while working in such intricate areas.

This page was created in an effort to let you keep an eye on the day-to-day and week-to-week progress of these new restorations. New, updated photos will be displayed here with captions so you can keep tabs on Jim's progress with Andy. So keep checking back often!


In order for a shell to be created with fiberglass to cradle the silicone negative of the Andy Kaufman lifecast, the original lifecast needed to be built up with clay. The clay represents what the silicone will eventually be. Once the cradle of fiberglass is set, then the clay is stripped off the lifecast, silicone is poured in and the raw lifecast is immersed. When it's set, it will be a perfect "negative" casting of Andy's lifecast. Stay tuned...next will be the silicone work! When the silicone is cured, then fiberglass is placed inside the negative to make a perfect replica of the original Andy Kaufman lifecast. Then it can be painted with lifelike skin tones, hair can be added, and glass eyes can be placed inside.

BTW, check out Jim's web site: www.ojalafilms.com

June 27, 2009 -



The fiberglass shell for the silicone molding process is readied



Andy's lifecast is encased in the sealed fiberglass mold casing, and then silicone is fed into it. The silicone forms around the lifecast making a perfect "negative" replica of the lifecast



Once the silicone cures, the mold is taken apart in two pieces, the front and back. The original Andy Kaufman lifecast looks a bit peeved to have gone through such a process. But the silicone is such great material, the original lifecast is virtually unharmed.



PRESTO! An exact impression of the lifecast is produced in the silicone.

ALSO...back in the Chaney Room...the robot hands are completed.  The two-part molding compound called Magic Sculpt is amazing!  The details of the robot hands are completed. Once the putty is completely cured, certain areas of the hands will be sanded with a fine grain sandpaper to ensure proper detail.


June 30, 2009 -

Make-up/Effects artist Jim Ojala delivers the fiberglass Andy Kaufman replica head pulled from the mold. Though this is not the final wig and eyebrows, you can see the likeness beginning to take shape. Of course the whole head needs to have hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and sideburns professionally and permanently applied, as well as have the fleshtones meticulously painted with glass eyes installed, it's easy to see how lifelike it will be when it's completed!



 

The guys from David's Glass of North Hollywood delicately remove the huge plate glass covering from the Andy Kaufman display. The mannequin is being removed so that the head may be replaced with the Andy Kaufman lifecast. That means that the mannequin will need to be completely undressed so that the mannequin's head and hands can be repainted in Jim Ojala's effects studio.

Want a close-up look at Andy's clothes? Click here...

July 2, 2009 -

Jim brings the painted lifecast over to Planet Wallywood for color approval. He has covered the glass eyes with latex to protect it from the airbrush during painting. When the painting is done, the latex can simply be removed and the eyes will be unharmed. The glossy finish will be muted somewhat in the final incarnation, though not completely. A total matte finish would make it look too much like a mannequin, and a bit of gloss gives it "life"...as if it were facial oils. After a few more touch-ups, it will be ready to have eyelashes, eyebrows, sideburns and the wig attached. Note that the paintjob also gives a hint of Andy's 5:00 shadow!

July 3, 2009 -

Jim Ojala brings over the finished mannequin and it's stunning! His wife Beth, Jim and Wally undergo the arduous task of dressing the mannequin in Andy's original performance costume. The turtleneck sweater is pulled delicately over the mannequin's head (so the hair, sideburns and eyebrows don't get mussed), then the blue oxford shirt is added, and then the checkered blazer. The shirts' sleeves are threaded through the jacket sleeves, and then the mannequin's disconnected arms are fed through the sleeves from inside the shirt. Then the arms are locked into place on the mannequin's body. Getting the knob on the arm locked into the hole and groove on the body was not easy! Additionally, it was tough stretching the material in certain ways to accommodate the arms considering the age of the material. Once the arms were locked into place, the hands were added.

Many photos were taken of the finished product before the guys from David's Glass came to place the mannequin back in its case. Here are a few shots that show the wonderful detail that Jim put into the paint scheme.


Jim trims up the eyebrows to exact precision.


Wally's pal comic Jon Reep stops in to see Andy.


The guys from David's Glass in North Hollywood clean the glass and prepare to reinstall it into the case.


Project Restore Andy is complete!
The upgraded mannequin is installed in the case.


July 21, 2009 -

 


Jim Ojala brings over the completed Valcom robot mannequin from "Heartbeeps." The dress shirt that Wally had in the display does not have a large enough collar to accommodate the make-up appliances on the head. So a size 18" collared shirt will need to be purchased. Additionally, padding will need to be added to the chest and shoulder areas to bulk up the display. Once a shirt is chosen, the original bowtie will be added to it, making the display look more complete.
 


Though the hands have been sculpted and completed, they are now in the possession of noted toy and prop painter Scott Zillner. He'll paint them in a matching copper tone and add distressing and highlights. The addition of the hands will go a long way to creating a finished look as well as the padding.
 


In this close-up of the completed Stan Winston head, you can see Jim's amazing gift for restoration. He's embellished the old prop with fresh metallic paint and touch-ups. He even managed to salvage the original eyelashes! Though Andy's eyes weren't green in real life, they certainly do "pop" against the copper colored skin tones.



July 27, 2009-

The mannequin's torso is padded up to fill out the original dimensions of the costume. Then a white shirt (with a neck circumference of 18.5" to accommodate all of the prosthetics) is added to the mannequin. (The shirt is not an original screen-used piece). Then the jacket is pulled onto the mannequin and fastened. The bowtie is stitched to the collar of the white shirt. The only thing left to complete the mannequin is the addition of the painted hands. Then it will be a complete display!

 

July 28,2009-

The "Heartbeeps" movie poster is mounted behind the mannequin to complete the display

July 30, 2009 -

Some vintage "Heartbeeps" lobby cards in clear frames are added to the display, along with the placard that states what the item is and the year it was used.

August 9, 2009 -

Artist Scott Zillner puts the initial paintjob on the robot hands. They still need to have an overcoat of "dirtying up" before they're complete, but they look amazing. A testament to Scott's amazing work and abilities. Soon the hands will be delivered and attached to the Heartbeeps robot mannequin and the display will be complete.

August 14, 2009 -

COMPLETE AT LAST! Scott Zillner brought the robot hands by Planet Wallywood and his eye proved to be spot on! The colors matched perfectly. Scott wanted to see the film to see how the colors compared, and I got the surprise of a lifetime! Apparently, the Andy Kaufman "Valcom" robot head WAS screen-used after all! In one scene, early in the film, the robot's head swivels around 180 degrees. The circuitry on the back of the neck matches mine perfectly. I was astonished! Even the green glass eyes are the same. Check out the screenshots from the film!


Give Scott Zillner a hand! No, give him TWO!


The completed Andy Kaufman Valcom robot.


My finished robot alongside the head as it appeared onscreen in the "Heartbeeps" movie.


As you can see, the circuitry on the back of the neck of the robot matches mine perfectly. The prosthetics on the head were removed for short time so the lifecast of Andy could be molded.


Again, another great view of the Stan Winston robot head in "Heartbeeps."

At last, the long process of restoration is complete. And I couldn't be happier!

 


THANKS to Bryan Ebenhoch for the photo!


The photo that Bryan sent was blown up in to a presentational poster and exhibited alongside the robot. As you can see it looks fantastic!