Makeup master Stuart Freeborn of 'Star Wars' dead at age 98

Jedi Master Yoda is one of the characters makeup artist Stuart Freeborn helped develop.

Story highlights

  • Creature effects artist Stuart Freeborn fashioned Yoda in his own image
  • He also helped create Chewbacca, Jabba the Hutt and the creatures in the bar scene
  • He also created the apelike ancestors in "2001: A Space Odyssey"
  • "His artistry and craftsmanship will live on ... in the characters he created," Lucas says

"Star Wars" makeup artist Stuart Freeborn, who helped create Chewbacca, Yoda, Jabba the Hutt and the otherworldly creatures in the trilogy's famous barroom scene, has died, Lucasfilm said Wednesday.

He was 98.

A creature effects artist, Freeborn also worked on other film classics and was responsible for creating the apelike human ancestors in the "Dawn of Man" sequence in "2001: A Space Odyssey."

He also did the makeup for Peter Sellers in "Doctor Strangelove," Lucasfilm said on its starwars.com website.

"Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on 'Star Wars,'" said George Lucas, creator of the films.

"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," Lucas said in a statement.

Playful, impish and imaginative, Freeborn played a pivotal role in developing the character Yoda for "The Empire Strikes Back."

Director Irvin Kershner said Freeborn put his own image into Yoda the Jedi Master, giving the character inquisitive and elfin features with "more than a passing resemblance to Freeborn himself," Lucasfilm said.

Freeborn also put his skills to work in "Oliver Twist," "The Bridge on the River Kwai," "The Omen," four "Superman" films, "Top Secret!" and "The Great Muppet Caper."

Among the more memorable sequences in the "Star Wars" film is the Mos Eisley Cantina, which Freeborn and his team populated by creating Greedo, Walrus Man and Snaggletooth.

He also worked on the tauntaun and wampa ice creatures in "The Empire Strikes Back."

"Return of the Jedi" is considered the "monster movie" of the trilogy, and Freeborn and his team in the United Kingdom developed Jabba the Hutt, which was a massive puppet, and the teddy-bear-like Ewoks.

He was often joined in his makeup work by wife Kay, who died last year, and son Graham, who died in 1996.

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