Stuart Freeborn, Creator of Star Wars’ Yoda, Dies at 98

Pay our respects to the makeup master who created Yoda, we will.

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Son Of Monsterpalooza
Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images

A statue of Yoda at Son Of Monsterpalooza held at Burbank Marriott Airport Hotel & Convention Center on October 27, 2012 in Burbank, California.

Stuart Freeborn, the British makeup artist behind iconic Star Wars creatures like Yoda, Chewbacca and Jabba the Hutt, has died at 98, LucasFilm confirmed.  Though he’s best known for his work on the set of Star Wars, the franchise’s creator, George Lucas, said in a statement that Freeborn was “already a makeup legend” when he began his work with the classic space epic. His other career accomplishments include creating the apes for the “Dawn of Man” sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s 2011: A Space Odyssey and doing Peter Sellers’ makeup in Doctor Strangelove, according to CNN.

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Lucas said in a statement:

“[Freeborn] 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.”

Born in London in 1914, Freeborn began his career in the 1930s, working for the Hungarian-born director Alexander Korda, The Guardian reports. That’s where he began to sharpen his makeup skills, working with stars including Marlene Dietrich and Vivien Leigh. After a stint in the Royal Air Force during World War II, Freeborn returned to his work in cinema, overseeing the makeup for classic British films like the 1948 version of Oliver Twist.

Though Freeborn put in six decades of work for a wide array of films, he’ll likely be remembered, most of all, for bringing us those iconic, distinct Star Wars characters. Because really, NewsFeed doesn’t want to even imagine what this world would be like without Yoda and his infinite wisdom. Stuart Freeborn, makeup master: rest in peace, may you.

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