Henry Vilardo, Journeyman Make-up Artist/ Business Representative and Trustee of the
Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plan (1923-2015)
Born in Chicago, Henry Vilardo began his 706 apprenticeship at Warner Bros. Studios in 1944. He worked with some of the truly great actors of the time – James Dean, Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, James Cagney, Doris Day and Sophia Loren and is credited with films The Days of Wine and Roses, A Summer Place, The Young Philadelphians and Boy on a Dolphin and many others. He began serving on the Executive Board in 1956 and became Business Representative for Local 706 in 1959. He was well respected as a contract negotiator and in order to represent the members better, Hank attended law school and achieved a Juris Doctorate to be in a position to do the best possible job. He dealt with exactly the same challenges that are faced in the union today. He attempted to rectify 32 years of “diminishing wage salary inequity” but unfortunately had no better fortune with that subject than make-up artists and hair stylists face today. The Business Representative of the Film Technicians Local 683 wrote in 1973, “It has been a gratifying experience to negotiate, arbitrate and conciliate numerous problems in the Motion Picture and Television Industries with Henry Vilardo. He has demonstrated his integrity and prowess as an extremely competent Labor Representative and one of the most skilled and aggressive negotiators in the Labor Movement. This is complemented by his keen insight and knowledge of the Motion Picture and Television Industries and his ability to communicate practical and reasonable solutions…Mr. Vilardo is well aware of the employees’ problems in the Motion Picture and Television Industries, as related to foreign production and American-interest “runaway” productions and it was my good fortune to serve with him on a Committee appearing in Washington, D.C. before our legislators. I was personally impressed with his ability in expressing the seriousness of Hollywood’s plight and his suggested solutions which are now being considered in legislative form before the 93rd Congressional Session in the House of Representatives.”
In 1974 he was appointed by the International to Chair a three man Committee to draft language to present to the Producer’s Association and the United States Department of Labor regarding a Memorandum of Resolution coupled to the United States Presidential Executive Order for an Affirmative Action Program, in an attempt to secure more employment for the Hollywood production crews. His draft was accepted by the Producer’s Association unamended. In the private sector, President Lyndon Johnson’s Executive Order 11246 gave the Secretary of Labor authority to formulate rules requiring federal contractors to take “affirmative action” towards eliminating discrimination after 1965. At the same time, the Civil Rights Act was being enforced by the federal courts against discriminatory companies, unions, and other institutions. The Department of Labor worked with the construction industry to establish a series of region-wide “plans” for numerical hiring goals. Through those contractor commitments, the department also could indirectly pressure labor unions, who supplied the employees at job sites, to create more ethnically balanced work crews. It was during this time that women became make-up artists, men became hair stylists, and minorities broke the barriers into union membership for both crafts.
Henry resigned as Business Representative for the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists, Local 706 and retired from the Local in 1974. Soon after that he was appointed as Secretary of the Motion Picture Pension Plan Board of Directors, Member of the Administrative Committee, Finance Committee and Legal Committee of the Pension Plan. He was also instrumental in finding the building that now houses the MPIPHP on Ventura Boulevard. During that year’s negotiations he was appointed as Chairman of the Meal Periods Committee, and was selected by IATSE President Walsh to help draft language for the Grievance and Technological Change Clauses of the new contract.
After his retirement, Henry Vilardo served as a Director for the Motion Picture Television Fund, and as a Trustee for the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plan and continued in that capacity until the early 2000s.
Henry E. Vilardo is survived by his spouse Stephanie Vilardo. He has two children, Jan De La Vega and Jon Vilardo by his former spouse Elaine. Local 706 was notified of Henry’s passing on June 10, 2015, but no information has been given to Local 706 regarding any memorial or burial information.