'Star Wars' makeup artist dead

Chewbacca from Star Wars. (Supplied)

Chewbacca from Star Wars. (Supplied)

Greg Gilman, Reuters

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

Stuart Freeborn, the makeup artist who designed Yoda, Chewbacca and a number of other memorable “Star Wars” characters, died Wednesday in England. He was 98. Freeborn began his six-decade career in the movie business with uncredited work on 1936’s “Rembrandt” before creating makeup magic for 75 other films, including “Oliver Twist,” “Dr. Strangelove,” 2001: A Space Odyssey,“ four ”Superman“ films and the original ”Star Wars“ trilogy.

”Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on ’Star Wars,’“ George Lucas said in a statement on StarWars.com. ”He brought with him not only decades of experience, but boundless creative energy. His artistry and craftsmanship will live on forever in the characters he created. His ’Star Wars’ creatures may be reinterpreted in new forms by new generations, but at their heart, they continue to be what Stuart created for the original films.“

Leading the makeup department on ”Star Wars: A New Hope,“ ”The Empire Strikes Back“ and ”Return of the Jedi,“ Freeborn created Han Solo’s Wookie sidekick, Chewbacca, and then used his own appearance to craft master Yoda. Other alien creations for the trilogy include those in the Mos Eisley Cantina sequence, Jabba the Hutt, the tauntaun, the wampa ice creature and the Ewoks.

Before working with Lucas, the British prosthetic specialist’s skills were utilized by Stanley Kubrick to transform Peter Sellers into the three distinct characters in ”Dr. Strangelove.“ A few years later, Kubrick hired Freeborn to create humanity’s ape-like ancestors for the ”Dawn of Man“ sequence in ”2001.“


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