The “Star Wars” community mourned the loss of one of their own this week. Creature effects artist Stuart Freeborn, who was instrumental in the process of designing iconic characters including Yoda and Jabba the Hutt, has died. He was 98.
The effects artist was already a hot commodity when George Lucas launched his science fiction saga, having made a name for himself with “Doctor Strangelove” and the ape-filled “Dawn of Man” sequence in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But Freeborn will be best remembered for his work on the “Star Wars” films, particularly the creation of Yoda, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Freeborn himself.
“Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on Star Wars,” Lucas said of Freeborn’s passing in a statement posted at StarWars.com. “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.”
Freeborn was also instrumental in the creation of Chewbacca, the Wookiee co-pilot of Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. Additionally, he designed several of the alien characters glimpsed in the famous Mos Eisely Cantina scene from “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope,” including Greedo, Walrus Man and Snaggletooth. He also designed the Ewoks introduced on the forest moon of Endor in “Return of the Jedi.”
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