'Star Wars' makeup legend dies at 98

05:00 AM, Feb 07, 2013

Jabba the Hutt is just one of many classic "Star Wars" creatures created by makeup artist Stuart Freeborn, who died Wednesday. Lucasfilm/


Written By by Brian Truitt, USA TODAY

Stuart Freeborn, the makeup and creature-effects master responsible for such classic Star Wars characters as Chewbacca, Yoda and Jabba the Hutt, died in London Wednesday at the age of 98, according to Lucasfilm.

Freeborn created many of the most famous monster sequences, moments and characters in George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy, including the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in the original 1977 film that featured Greedo, Walrus Man, Snaggletooth and other creatures.

In The Empire Strikes Back, he developed the beloved Jedi master Yoda as well as the Tauntaun and Wampa creatures seen on the ice planet of Hoth, and in Return of the Jedi, Freeborn oversaw the creation of notorious slug-like gangster Jabba and the furry Ewoks.

Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on Star Wars,” Lucas said in a statement. “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.”

In addition to the classic Star Wars films, the British makeup artist also worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, Oliver Twist, The Great Muppet Caper and the four Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel.