Emmy (1998) -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Films of Lon Chaney, A Thousand Faces
Lon Chaney: Man Behind the Thousand Faces
Code of Honor: The Making of Three Great American Westerns-High Noon, Shane and The Searchers
(NORTHRIDGE MAGAZINE, Fall 2003)
On a spring day in 1979, Michael F. Blake was on the verge of enrolling at Cal State Northridge. Instead, he answered the phone. It was Universal Studios, offering him the job that put him on the path to an Emmy Award nearly 20 years later. "Universal," he said, became my home lot.
Part of the make-up team responsible for the ghoulish charm of television's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Blake won his 1998 Emmy for his work on that program. The next year he was nominated again, for his "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" make-up designs.
Blake graduated from Cal State Northridge with a bachelor's degree in film criticism theory in 2001, 22 years after putting off his education. His "suicidal" schedule made earning it just a shade less difficult than earning his Emmy. At one point he was juggling studio work, a Turner Classic Movies cable documentary on actor Lon Chaney, and two demanding classes with Department of Cinema and Television Arts Chair John Schultheiss, whom Blake considers "one of the toughest and best" teachers in the business.
So why did a Cal State Northridge diploma matter at least as much to him as the Emmy? "Painting faces is awfully nice," he explained, "but when I get to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter asks me what else I've done, I don't want to have to say, "Well, painting faces is it, sir."
He made sure of that by launching a second career as an author. His new book, "Code of Honor: The making of Three Great American Westerns--High Noon, Shane and The Searchers," for Taylor Trade Publishing, coincides with the 100th anniversary of the western as a film genre. Film critic Leonard Maltin calls it "a thorough and thoughtful document of three great American films."
Blake said westerns have been a part of his life since his father, actor Larry J. Blake, played the saloon owner who spoke the first line in "High Noon.'
A Studio City resident, Blake also earned a master's degree in critical film studies at UCLA.