Roy Ashton

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Roy Ashton
Born (1909-04-17)17 April 1909
Perth, Western Australia
Died 10 January 1995(1995-01-10) (aged 85)
Farnham, Surrey, England, UK
Occupation Make-up artist; tenor

Howard Roy Ashton (17 April 1909 – 10 January 1995) was an Australian tenor, associated for a while with Benjamin Britten's English Opera Group, and make-up artist who became particularly associated with his work on the Hammer Horror films.


Ashton initially studied art and music in Perth. He then studied architecture, and worked as an illustrator of architectural subjects.[1]

After World War II he began his career as a principal tenor with both Covent Garden and Glyndebourne. In 1947, he joined Benjamin Britten's English Opera Group, understudying Peter Pears and creating the role of the Mayor in Albert Herring. During the summer months, he worked as a make-up artist to support his life as a singer during the winter.[2]

In 1955, due to clashing commitments, Ashton was forced to make a choice; since his work as a make-up artist was a more lucrative and stable source of income, he devoted himself to that career.[2] However he would always fondly remember his singing career: "Nothing can compare with the thrill of appearing before a great gathering, of hearing the thunder of the applause delivered to a sincere artist," he wrote.[3]

Although he had a long and varied career in British films, Ashton is chiefly remembered for his work on the Hammer Horror films.[4] After assisting Phil Leakey on The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Ashton took the reins in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) and created some of the studio's most celebrated images in films, such as The Mummy (1959), The Curse of the Werewolf and The Reptile (1966).[5]

He also worked on Blake Edwards' Pink Panther series.[6]


  • The Beggar's Opera (John Gay, arr. Britten); with English Opera Group conducted by Benjamin Britten. BBC broadcast recorded 22 September 1948. Released on Pearl
  • Albert Herring (Benjamin Britten); with English Opera Group conducted by Benjamin Britten. Live recording in the Theatre Royal, Copenhagen, on 15 September 1949. Released on Nimbus


  1. ^ Taylor, Al & Sue Roy. Making a monster: the creation of screen characters by the great makeup artists. Crown Publishers, 1980: p. 143
  2. ^ a b Piers Ford. "Parallel Universe". The Singer December 2007 – January 2008: p. 14.
  3. ^ Greasepaint and Gore: The Hammer Monsters of Roy Ashton (Tomahawk Press); quoted in Ford "Parallel Universe"
  4. ^ Sachs, Bruce; Wall, Russell (1998). Greasepaint and Gore: The Hammer Monsters of Roy Ashton. Tomahawk Press. ISBN 0-9531926-0-1. 
  5. ^ David L Rattigan (2005). "Roy Ashton: Makeup artist". Dictionary of Hammer Horror. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  6. ^ Taylor & Roy (1980): p. 156

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