‘Star Wars’ makeup artist Stuart Freeborn dies at 98

By Daniel Levine,

Stuart Freeborn, the acclaimed British makeup artist who designed Yoda for Star Wars and worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died at age 98.

Born in 1914, Freeborn decided early on in life that he was not destined to be an insurance broker like his father. “I didn't want to spend my life in an office,” he told the BBC in a 2012 documentary. “I felt I was different.”

He started working in films in the 1930s under the legendary Alexander Korda. From then on, he never stopped and enjoyed working with stars like Marlene Dietrich and Vivien Leigh. His early work can be seen in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Oliver Twist. He also worked on The Bridge on the River Kwai.

In the 1960s, he began working with Stanley Kubrick, helping Peter Sellers play three different roles in Doctor Strangelove. Next, he worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey, helping design the creatures in the “Dawn of Man” sequence.

He started working on Star Wars in the 1970s, which led to him creating Yoda for The Empire Strikes Back.

“Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on Star Wars,” George Lucas said in a statement posted at 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.”

Freeborn outlived both his wife, Kay, who died last year, and his son, Graham, who died in 1986.

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