Mechanical Secrets of Moving Gorillas in “King Kong”, 1933 – Design You Trust

Mechanical Secrets of Moving Gorillas in “King Kong”, 1933

Ever wonder how a Hollywood make-up man converts an actor into a terrifyingly realistic gorilla in those fascinating jungle pictures you watch on the silver screen?

A study of these photos will give you an idea of what goes on behind a gorilla face. Mechanics have devised a set of mechanical facial bones and muscles which act as the skeleton for a leather “skin” which make-up men put on.


A simple set of levers on the mechanism and a strip clamping over the lower teeth enable the actor to open and close his huge gorilla jaws like the real beast of the jungle. A special strap over the eyes gives the beetle browed effect.

Since gorillas have resisted all attempts to train them for use in the movies, film producers have resorted to “synthetic” animals custom-built to fit the picture. One such animal completed recently by Max Factor Studios of Hollywood, California, is made up of an aluminum skeleton with its “bones” filled out with mohair. The body is covered with a tanned leather hide into which thousands of hairs have been knotted by wig craftsmen.

Basic and motionless portions of the gorilla’s skull also are of aluminum, but the working parts in the jaws are made of aluminum, supplemented by steel springs and pinions. Bone teeth and synthetic flesh tongue and mouth lining have a natural appearance. For skin of the gorilla’s head, smooth polished chamois is used, with hair wig-stitched in the proper locale. The “bones” of the cinema gorilla’s hand extensions are of duralumin.

If you want more awesome content, subscribe to 'Oh, Design You Trust,' our brand new Facebook page! Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

More Inspiring Stories

Amazing Snapshots Capture Street Life in New York City From the Mid-1930s to the End of the 1940s
Fascinating Vintage Photographs That Capture Kids Finding Fun On The Streets In Postwar London Rubble
Before Facebook: This Is How We Used to Unfriend People Back Then
The Other Me
reaDIYmates: Your Fun Wifi Paper Companion
Iris van Herpen Creates Futuristic Wearable 3D Printed Pieces
Captivating Photographs of the Luxury and Futuristic 1930 Henderson KJ Streamline
The 1955 GMC L’Universelle Dream Truck
"Mersey Paradise": Photographer Tom Wood Spent Decades Photographing The Pubs, Clubs And Bus Rides Of Liverpool – And The People Who Inhabited Them
Movie Scenes Before-And-After Special Effects
Men Behaving Badly On Saucy Vintage Postcards
Cool Old Photos Show What School Looked Like In The 1970s
Red Stripe Make Art On The Street with Filthy Luker: The Making Of
"Face Values": The Surreal and Disturbing Collage Portraits of John Stezaker
Photographs of Excited Dutch Boys Hanging on a Moving Train After the Liberation, 1945
Wonderful Vintage Photos Documented Everyday Life In London In The 1930s
Federico Babina Illustrates The Imaginary Architecture Of Movie Director-Designed Homes
Photos Of Time Before The Invention Of That Grossly Antisocial Device: The Smartphone
Amazing Vintage Snapshots of Ancient Dinosaur Statues in Statues Parks
The Epic Alien-Inspired Installation by Mire Lee
Finally, It's Here. A Collection Of 50 Outrageous Album Covers Ever. Certainly.
French Artist SLip Creates Delightfully Otherworldy, Colorful and Superb Surreal Collages
When You Use Face Swap App On Your Tattoo…
Over 90 Million Plastic Balls To Protect The City Of Los Angeles