Stuart Freeborn (5 September 1914 – 5 February 2013) was an English motion picture make-up artist. 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.
5 September 1914|
Leytonstone, London, England
|Died||5 February 2013
|Known for||Star Wars|
|Spouse(s)||Kay (3 children)|
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 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, The Mouse that Roared, 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 died on 5 February 2013 at the age of 98 in London. His wife Kay died in 2012. Freeborn's three sons - Roger, Ray and Graham - also predeceased him. His granddaughter, Michelle Freeborn, resides in Wellington, New Zealand, and spoke of her inspirational grandfather following his passing. Stuart Freeborn had seven other grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
- The Thief of Bagdad (1940, uncredited makeup artist)
- Oliver Twist (1948, makeup artist – as Stuart Freebourne)
- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, makeup artist)
- Dr. Strangelove (1964, makeup artist – as Stewart Freeborn)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, makeup)
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972, makeup artist)
- The Omen (1976, chief makeup artist)
- Star Wars
- "Star Wars make-up artist Stuart Freeborn dies aged 98". BBC News. 2012-03-04. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
- "Stuart Freeborn – the man who designed Yoda – dies at 98". gnnaz.com. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- "British make-up artist Stuart Freeborn, who created Yoda, dies aged 98". The Times. Retrieved 7 February 2013
- "Stuart Freeborn, Yoda's maker, dies".The Guardian. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- Hauptfuhrer, Fred (9 June 1980). "Yoda Mania: America Falls in Love with the 26–Inch, Green, Pointy-Eared Sage and his Master Puppeteer, Frank Oz". People. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- Day, Patrick Kevin (7 February 2013). "'Star Wars': Frank Oz on Stuart Freeborn, the legend behind Yoda". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- "Yoda, Chewbacca 'Star Wars' makeup artist Stuart Freeborn dead at 98". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 7 February 2013
- "Live supplement". Daily Mail. 24 June 2012
- "Star Wars Make-Up Artist Stuart Freeborn Dies". Sky News. Retrieved 8 February 2013
- "Makeup master Stuart Freeborn of 'Star Wars' dead at age 98". CNN. Retrieved 8 February 2013
- "Stuart Freeborn". The Daily Telegraph. London. 7 February 2013.
- "Stuart Freeborn, makeup artist behind 'Star Wars' characters Yoda and Chewbacca, dies at 98". WDBJ TV. Retrieved 7 February 2013.