February 05, 2014

Stuart Freeborn

A year ago today, the legendary Stuart Freeborn, passed away. He has been referred to as the "grandfather of modern make-up design" and is perhaps best known for his work on the original Star Wars trilogy, most notably the design and fabrication of Yoda and Jabba The Hut.

Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on Star Wars. 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.

Freeborn's earliest work in the film industry was designing the hair and make-up worn by Alec Guinness, while at Denham Studios as Fagin in Oliver Twist. Freeborn's most famous work is creating the make-up for all of the characters in the Star Wars trilogy, including Chewbacca and Yoda; he based Yoda on his own face and partly on Albert Einstein. He oversaw the design of the original Jabba the Hutt puppet used in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, as well as the creation of the Ewoks.

Freeborn was also the make-up artist on Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, where he created the humans/apes for the "Dawn of Man" sequence. He worked on Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, handling Peter Sellers' multiple lead roles. He also worked with Sellers in several other films, including Heavens Above!, Mr. Topaze, and Soft Beds, Hard Battles and he was the make-up visual supervisor in the Superman films.

His wife Kay assisted her husband on several occasions; their son Graham was also a prolific make-up artist before his death in 1986.

Freeborn passed away in London on 5 February 2013, at the age of 98.





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