What can one say about The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman: it was a piece of classic 1970s televsion; Cicely Tyson put in a brilliant performance; the makeup deservedly won an Emmy; it was a landmark in the treatment of black characters. All these are true and are undiminished by the truism that there’s nothing new in telling a story about history through the life of a fictional character.
Jane Pittman’s life encompasses the period from Civil War to Civil Rights. Jane (Cicely Tyson) is a young slave freed at the end of the Civil War who survives to take part in the struggle for desegregation.
The makeup was created by Stan Winston and Rick Baker; Stan Winston was makeup supervisor; Marvin Westmore was makeup artist on the TV movie. Stan Winston and Rick Baker rightly won the Emmy Award for their work on this makeup which was exceptional for its time: the attention to detail such as dental veneers and contact lenses is outstanding. The images on this page show the makeup process for the aged Miss Pittman (Cicely Tyson was aged about forty at the time): there is another page with images of the completed age makeups.