‘Star Wars’ Yoda Creator Stuart Freeborn Dies At 98

Movies & TV

/ February 8, 2013

A pioneering movie makeup legend behind creatures such as Yoda and Chewbacca has gone on to the other side.

LucasFilm confirmed Wednesday the passing of Stuart Freeborn and added their thoughts saying he is “leaving a legacy of unforgettable contributions.”

Already a makeup legend, Freeborn’s six-decade career led him to work on many classics, including Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The London-born son of a Lloyds of London insurance broker, Stuart Freeborn resisted pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps, because he felt he was different.

Freeborn went on to begin his own career in film during the 1930s, working for Hungarian-born director Alexander Korda, and honed his makeup skills on stars including Marlene Dietrich and Vivien Leigh.

Freeborn later worked with Kubrick transforming Peter Sellers into multiple characters for Doctor Strangelove before designing the apes for the “Dawn of Man” sequence in 2001, in which primates react to a mysterious monolith.

Most fans of his work will likely best remember the late Stuart Freeborn for his work on Star Wars — creating characters such as the 7-foot-tall Wookie, Chewbacca, the head of the Jedi council, Yoda, and the slug-like gangster Jabba the Hutt.

Star Wars creator George Lucas said in a statement that 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.”

The 98-year-old is survived by his granddaughter, Michelle Freeborn, who announced that his passing resulted from a combination of ailments due to his age.

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Props: MTV