Skip to main content

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

By Michael Martinez, CNN
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jedi Master Yoda is one of the characters makeup artist Stuart Freeborn helped develop.
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

(CNN) -- "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.

Click through to see people who passed away in 2013. Click through to see people who passed away in 2013.
People we lost in 2013
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: People we lost in 2013 Photos: People we lost in 2013

"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.

People we lost in 2013: The lives they lived

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
January 6, 2014 -- Updated 0030 GMT (0830 HKT)
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 0055 GMT (0855 HKT)
Actor James Avery, who played the beloved Uncle Phil on the hit 1990s sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," has died. He was 67.
January 1, 2014 -- Updated 1959 GMT (0359 HKT)
Dr. John W.V. Cordice, the surgeon who operated on Dr. Martin Luther King after he was stabbed in Harlem in 1958, died in Iowa. Cordice was 95.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 0128 GMT (0928 HKT)
Joseph Ruskin died of natural causes in a Santa Monica, California, hospital. He was 89.
January 1, 2014 -- Updated 2119 GMT (0519 HKT)
Jeffrey Ian Pollack, who directed the popular 1990s films "Booty Call" and "Above the Rim" and produced "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" has died. He was 54.
December 23, 2013 -- Updated 2300 GMT (0700 HKT)
Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian gun designer whose AK-47 rifle became the weapon of choice for many national armies and guerrillas around the world, died.
December 22, 2013 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Ned Vizzini, who shot to fame at a young age for his teenage novels focusing on youth depression and anxieties, committed suicide at age 32.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
Al Goldstein, the foul-mouthed publisher of Screw magazine and pornography pioneer died in New York. He was 77.
December 31, 2013 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
Actor Daniel Escobar, who played a teacher in "Lizzie McGuire," died from complications of diabetes in Los Angeles. He was 49.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 0041 GMT (0841 HKT)
"Great Train Robber" Ronnie Biggs -- one of the most notorious British criminals of the 20th century -- has died, his publisher told CNN. He was 84.
December 17, 2013 -- Updated 0117 GMT (0917 HKT)
Ray Price, the Nashville star whose trademark "shuffle" beat became a country music staple, has died at age 87, his agent said.
December 17, 2013 -- Updated 0223 GMT (1023 HKT)
Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine died, her longtime friend Noel Beutel said. She was 96.
December 16, 2013 -- Updated 1240 GMT (2040 HKT)
Actor Peter O'Toole died peacefully in a hospital at 81 years old.
December 16, 2013 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Tom Laughlin, the actor who wrote and starred in the "Billy Jack" films of the 1970s, died at age 82.
December 12, 2013 -- Updated 0056 GMT (0856 HKT)
Jazz guitarist Jim Hall, who played with the jazz greats of the 20th century and influenced the younger ones, has died, his family said. He was 83.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1346 GMT (2146 HKT)
Actress Eleanor Parker, nominated for three Oscars and known for her "Sound of Music" role, died Monday at 91, her family said.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 0440 GMT (1240 HKT)
Freedom fighter, statesman, moral compass and South Africa's symbol of the struggle against racial oppression.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 0218 GMT (1018 HKT)
Bill Beckwith, who co-hosted HGTV home-improvement show "Curb Appeal," has died. He was 38.
December 2, 2013 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)
Actor Paul Walker, who shot to fame as star of the high-octane street racing franchise "Fast & Furious," died in a car crash in Southern California. He was 40.
November 30, 2013 -- Updated 2239 GMT (0639 HKT)
Paul F. Crouch, co-founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, died at age 79.
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 2342 GMT (0742 HKT)
Jane Kean, who played diverse roles during a long career but was best known as Trixie on the TV revival of "The Honeymooners," has died. She was 90.
November 25, 2013 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Singer Wayne Mills, whose "outlaw country" songs center on honky-tonk life, died in a Nashville bar shooting.
ADVERTISEMENT