OD’s work produces ‘thrilling’ effects

October 31, 2012

Dr. Greenspoon received an Oscar nomination for his work on “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” in 1992. He created the effect shown for Gary Oldman’s eyes.

Hollywood turns to Morton Greenspoon, O.D., when it wants the best in special effects for movies, but it almost seems as he could be the subject of a movie himself.

As Dr. Greenspoon explained in his presentation at the American Academy of Optometry meeting this month, his ties to the movie industry go back to the 1930s when his father, Reuben Greenspoon, O.D., opened his practice in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The senior Dr. Greenspoon shared high-rise space with some major movie industry players. One of his patients, Ben Nye, was the head of makeup for 20th Century Fox.

Some of the movie folks inquired about the possibility of using contacts to change the color of one’s eyes.

Dr. Reuben Greenspoon was able to create the effect using blue ceramic material with glass lenses that would change the eye color of one of the actors from brown to blue. The movie was “Miracles for Sale,” and thus the miracle of cosmetic lenses was born!

The elder Dr. Greenspoon went on to produce many special effects for movies, including “Jane Eyre.” Aging effects were often requested, and he even aged Orson Welles for “Citizen Kane.” When Alan Mowbry needed an eye turn in “Captain from Castile,” he fit him with special contact lenses as well.

And when Dr. Morton Greenspoon finished his schooling in 1951 at the Southern California College of Optometry, he decided he would follow in his father’s footsteps in more ways than one.

Dr. Greenspoon

“I felt the movie business had great promise,” he said. “So once I graduated, I took over the specialty contact lens and special effects part of the practice.”

Some of Dr. Greenspoon’s more notable projects include Elvis Presley in “Flaming Star,” Audrey Hepburn in “Wait Until Dark,” and 1987’s “The Lost Boys.”

“That one was interesting because it was the ultimate vampire movie, and I did all those eyes,” said Dr. Greenspoon. “The makeup artist and I sat down and watched ‘The Exorcist’ to decide what demons’ and vampires’ eyes should look like.”

Dr. Greenspoon’s most famous work was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

“Michael Jackson had seen ‘An American Werewolf in London,’” explained Dr. Greenspoon. “That was the first movie in which a man changed into a werewolf, and he wanted us to do that effect on him. And as you know, that was the largest selling video of all time.”

“Thriller” was also Dr. Greenspoon’s favorite project.

Some of Dr. Greenspoon’s more notable projects include Elvis Presley in “Flaming Star.” Presley played a character whose father was a white rancher and mother was a Kiowa Indian. Dr. Greenspoon was able to change Presley’s blue eyes to brown.

“I really felt the director and photographer took full advantage of the contact lenses,” he said. “Sometimes you fit them and you can’t really tell, but in ‘Thriller’ it was really out there.”

Dr. Greenspoon’s more recent work encompasses the “Twilight” series.

“The director didn’t want the standard demon look,” said Dr. Greenspoon. “He wanted a kinder, gentler look because these were good vampires. So I did an amber that morphed into a little red.”

Dr. Greenspoon received an Oscar nomination for his work on “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” in 1992 and an Emmy nomination for his work on the “Star Trek Voyager” episode “Threshold” in 1995-1996.

Dr. Greenspoon’s current projects include several TV shows and movies. However, he can’t reveal the titles until the films are released.

Dr. Greenspoon currently practices with Richard Silver, O.D., and Stacey Sumner, O.D., at Professional VisionCare Associates in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Visit his website at www.provisioncare.com and click on “Special FX” to see more about his work.

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