From the number of different characters played by Peter Sellers in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb to a number of the aliens of the Star Wars galaxy, make-up artist Stuart Freeborn helped to create the look of some of cinema’s most memorable characters.
Word has come to us that Freeborn died earlier today in England. He was 98.
Stuart’s career spanned nearly six decades, starting with uncredited work on British films including Victoria The Great, The Thief Of Bahgdad and The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp in the late 1930s/early 40s. It was his memorable work transforming Alec Guiness into the villainous Fagin for David Lean’s 1948 Oliver Twist where his skill first stood out
Freeborn continued to work on a number of notable British films including The Dam Busters (1955), The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957) and The Mouse That Roared (1959) with Peter Sellers. He reunited with Sellers for Kurbrick’s Dr. Strangelove, where he created the look for the three different characters the comic actor played in the dark satire, as well as the films I Like Money (aka Mr. Topaze, 1961), Heavens Above! (1963) and Undercover Heroes (aka Soft Beds, Hard Battles, 1974).
Impressed with his work on Dr. Strangelove, director Stanley Kubrick asked Freeborn to create the look of the early ape men in for 2001: A Space Odyssey’s “Dawn of Man” sequence.
For George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy, Freeborn served as makeup supervisor, creating the makeup worn by seven-foot-tall actor Peter Mayhew for the role of Chewbacca. He also developed the look of Yoda, reportedly combining elements of his own face and Albert Einstein’s for the Jedi Master’s look, and intergalactic gangster Jabba the Hutt, designing the life-sized puppet of the character that required three puppeteers to operate.
Freeborn was also provided the makeup on the four Superman films headlined by Christoher Reeve.
Although he was never even nominated for an Academy Award, Freeborn was recognized by the Academy of Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films with two Saturn Awards for his work on Star Wars and Return Of The Jedi.