Way Bandy

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Way Bandy
Born Ronald Duane Wright
(1941-08-09)August 9, 1941
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Died August 13, 1986(1986-08-13) (aged 45)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
AIDS-related pneumonia
Nationality American
Alma mater Birmingham–Southern College
Tennessee Technological University
Occupation Make-up artist
Years active 1966–1986

Way Bandy (August 9, 1941[1] – August 13, 1986) was an American make-up artist. During the 1970s and 1980s, Bandy was one of the most known and highest paid make-up artist in the fashion industry.[2] Francesco Scavullo later called Bandy "one of the great makeup artists of our time."[3]

Early life[edit]

Born Ronald Duane Wright in Birmingham, Alabama,[4] Bandy was one of three sons born into a middle-class family. While growing up in Birmingham, he eschewed "traditional masculine things—fishing, hunting, baseball" in favor of sewing and piano lessons. Bandy's love of movie magazines and the stars featured in the pages led him to portrait paintings. Bandy said, "I would make them up the way I thought they should look. That's how I learned about cosmetics—it's a direct outgrowth of my painting."[1]

After high school, Bandy attended Birmingham–Southern College where he was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. After two years, he dropped out to work as a department store model. Bandy later enrolled in Tennessee Technological University where he earned a degree in education. Upon graduation, he got a job teaching high school English in Tennessee and then in Maryland. During this period, Bandy got married. In the summer of 1965, he and his wife visited New York City. Bandy later said, "The minute we arrived I knew I would never go back to my former life. This was a new beginning." Bandy quit his teaching job and he and his wife separated.[1][2]


After moving to New York City, Bandy reinvented himself. He changed his name (he never revealed his birth name or real age), underwent a nose job and face lift and capped his teeth.[1][5] Bandy began working at a modeling school as a makeup teacher. He soon got a job as makeup director at Charles of the Ritz before leaving the company in 1971 to do makeup for the Broadway show No, No, Nanette.[6]

Bandy gained fame when he and friend Maury Hopson transformed Martha Beall Mitchell, wife of John N. Mitchell, during a photo session with Francesco Scavullo.[7] Bandy also authored a book, Designing Your Face, to teach his signature style of heavy, all natural makeup application.[6]

Illness and death[edit]

Intensely private about his personal life, Bandy never revealed that he had contracted AIDS fearing the stigma of the disease would cost him to lose work. When his health began to decline, he refused to see a doctor because he did not trust them.[8] He instead opted for natural remedies (Bandy was known for his dedication to naturopathy and vegetarianism).[6][8]

On August 6, 1986, Bandy was scheduled to do makeup for a photo shoot at Francesco Scavullo's studio. When Bandy arrived at the studio, he was too sick to work.[9] Concerned about Bandy's deteriorating health, his agent called former Vogue editor-in-chief Grace Mirabella for advice. Mirabella contacted her husband, a doctor, who convinced Bandy to check into the hospital. Bandy relented and checked into NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (then named New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center).[8]

Bandy died of AIDS-related pneumonia at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on August 13, 1986.[10] He was cremated and a memorial service was later held in Manhattan. His ashes, along with the ashes of his lover Michael Gardine who died in 1985, were later scattered in a pine forest in Key West, Florida by his friend and estate executor Maury Hopson.[11]

Before his death, Bandy requested that his cause of death be identified as AIDS-related in his obituary.[10] He also requested that no survivors be named.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Rowes, Barbara (1978-05-01). "If It Launched a Thousand Ships, the Face Was Probably Done by Makeup Genius Way Bandy". People 9 (17). ISSN 0093-7673. 
  2. ^ a b "Way Bandy, 45, Famed Makeup Artist To Stars". chicagotribune.com. 1986-08-15. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Folkart, Burt A. (1986-08-16). "Worked With Nancy Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor : Makeup Artist Way Bandy Dies of AIDS". latimes.com. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Way Bandy's death causes problems for Florida man". Gadsden Times. 1986-09-09. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Polman, Dick (1986-11-15). "Remembering Way Bandy Friends Recall The Makeup Artist, Who Died Of Aids". philly.com. p. 3. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Fried, Stephen (1994). Thing of Beauty. Pocket Books. p. 122. ISBN 0-671-70105-3. 
  7. ^ Norwich, William (1997-10-12). "Francesco Scavullo showed there was no surface in the public arena that couldn't be polished.". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  8. ^ a b c Polman, Dick (1986-11-15). "Remembering Way Bandy Friends Recall The Makeup Artist, Who Died Of Aids". philly.com. p. 2. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Fried, Stephen (1994). Thing of Beauty. Pocket Books. p. 371. ISBN 0-671-70105-3. 
  10. ^ a b Fried, Stephen (1994). Thing of Beauty. Pocket Books. p. 372. ISBN 0-671-70105-3. 
  11. ^ Dullea, Georgia (1987-05-11). "New Rituals Ease Grief as AIDS Toll Increases". nytimes.com. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 

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