Exposing The Device – The Unbelievable ‘Miss Honeywell’

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In the 1960s there was a flurry of electronic and computer innovation and breakthroughs. Near the end of the decade, in 1968, London, England, hosted a trade fair – the Instruments, Electronics and Automation Exhibition at the Olympia conference center. One would imagine that it should have been filled with all kinds of new and exciting examples of modern ingenuity. After a very thorough search through several databases, only one exhibit appears to have made an impression.

The video below is from the fantastic British Pathé collection on YouTube. It features Miss Honeywell – “a futuristic ‘robot girl’ demonstrating various pieces of equipment by computer company Honeywell Controls Ltd..” The commentator is skeptical. The observers seem fascinated.

 

Yes indeed. The commentator is correct – the man at the controls is illusionist Mark Wilson. Wilson has been credited as the man who brought stage magic innovation to television. He’s since had a very successful career, earned the title of Master Magician, and has been honored with numerous national and international magician awards by his peers. ‘Miss Honeywell’ was more than likely Wilson’s wife and longtime assistant, Nani Darnell.

It appears that the innovation that stole the show in 1968 wasn’t an electronic computerized automation at all – it was instead a dazzling low-tech illusionist invention. Below are two pages of Mark Wilson’s ‘APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR PRODUCING DISPLAY ILLUSIONS’ abstract. It was filed in January 1969 and was patented October 1971.

US Patent 3,612,516 Abstract

US Patent 3,612,516 Abstract  (Image via cyberneticzoo.com)

US Patent 3,612,516 Figures 1 and 2

US Patent 3,612,516 Figures 1 and 2  (Image via cyberneticzoo.com)

Just one last thing about the ‘robot girl’ – she wasn’t a one-trick-automaton. Wilson’s creation traveled to a number of exhibitions and trade shows. Earlier in ’68 she did a gig for Hamilton Beach as the highly efficient housecleaner ‘Roberta the Robot’ at the Home Furnishings Exposition in San Francisco. By 1970 she developed a glitzy glammish look and took to speaking French – La ‘femme robot ménager’ can be seen here.

A 60¢ Monster Make-Up Handbook By Dick Smith? Yes!

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Famous Monsters Of Filmland's Monster Make-Up Handbook

Famous Monsters Of Filmland’s Monster Make-Up Handbook – 1965

Imagine that – for 60¢ in 1965 you could purchase a complete monster make-up handbook put together by the premier make-up artist Dick Smith. Ah! You say you’d love to see the content? Well, Nerdcore‘s Rene Walter has been so gracious as to post the pages at flickr. If you’re interested in taking a look, click here.

Below is a short introduction to Dick Smith and his accomplishments via Wikipedia.

Richard Emerson “Dick” Smith (born June 26, 1922) is an American special effects make-up artist (nicknamed “The Godfather of Make-Up”) known for his work on such films as Little Big Man, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Taxi Driver, and Scanners. He won a 1985 Academy Award for Makeup for his work on Amadeus and a 2012 Honorary Academy Award for his career’s work.

Smith pioneered the method of applying prosthetics made from foam latex in small pieces as opposed to the standard of applying a latex mask as one solid piece. Smith’s technique allowed the actor to have a wide range of facial expressions, making the makeup appear more natural. Despite initial criticism from many professional makeup artists at the time, Smith’s makeup techniques proved to be superior. Today, the standard methods of applying prosthetics are those that Smith invented.

Wikipedia