One of the goals of this series, and its “already dead people” counterpart on Saturdays, is to bring some more obscure people to greater attention. Oh, I also write about the big names—particularly when I have something unusual to say about them—but there’s a pleasure to writing about someone it’s harder to find information on. Once, the only image of a person I could find was from an obituary page by the person’s son. Lynette Eklund wasn’t that hard to track down; for one thing, she has her own website. But once again, I’m writing about someone without so much as a mention on Wikipedia that I can find.
Part of the issue, of course, is that we don’t talk much about the people doing special effects work. There are at most half a dozen names that are widely known, and they’re all men. No shame to your Rick Bakers and your Ray Harryhausens, goodness knows, and we’ll probably get to both of them one fine October. However, that’s where people are running out of names. And Lynette Eklund actually has more movie credits than Harryhausen. This is not to denigrate him; I don’t think she’s had a chance to be quite as distinctive as he has in her career. But she’s doing a ton of work still, and let’s not forget her TV work. And her commercials. And her costuming.
You’ve got to love anyone who’s done a Totoro suit for a Japanese promotion, California Raisin costumes for the Ice Capades, and a Rose Parade float. She did construction and puppetry for The Lost World. She constructed the lizard people for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. She worked on Beetlejuice and Species. She was a fabricator for the satire puppet show DC Follies. She worked on The Stand. She made giant blacklight puppets for a touring Masters of the Universe stage show.
I mean, that’s a crazy list. Not everything on it is classic; for one thing, she worked on Star Trek V. But there are a lot of people out there with fondness for The Sandlot, and she worked on that, too. Indeed, the range of stuff she’s worked on is impressive all by itself, even if she was working to directors’ specification. It takes a lot of skill to do the list of things she’s done whether you’re a designer or a builder, and from what I can tell she is very much a designer.
I must admit that I’m taking a lot of my information from her website, in no small part because it’s a source of information and most of my usual references don’t mention her. She’s not even mentioned by name as one of the Emmy winners for the makeup of The Stand, and I don’t actually have the Emmy official database bookmarked. (In part because it’s not as well designed as the Oscars’ database.) But she is another one of those people who, in ways most people will never notice, has shaped what the media landscape looks like, and I’m glad I’m mentioning her even if hardly anyone else seems to.