He's the man who blessed moviegoers with the "Terminator" robots, the "Jurassic Park" dinosaurs, Edward Scissorhands and most recently, Robert Downey Jr.'s suit in "Iron Man." Now word is spreading across Hollywood of the passing of legendary special-effects and makeup artist Stan Winston.
Representatives for the 62-year-old blockbuster king have confirmed to MTV News that Winston succumbed to cancer Sunday evening.
"Academy Award-winning makeup, creature and visual effects artist Stan Winston died Sunday at his home in Malibu, California, after a prolonged illness," a statement from his Stan Winston Studio explained.
Born in 1946 in Richmond, Virginia, Winston studied painting and sculpture at the University of Virginia but moved to Hollywood in 1968 with dreams of becoming an actor. Finding jobs few and far between, he became an apprentice at Walt Disney Studios' makeup department, a path that would bring him four Oscars, two Emmys and millions of movie fans in debt to his enormous imagination.
Winston's filmography reads like a list of the best science-fiction films from the last quarter-century -- the "Terminator" and "Jurassic Park" films, "Predator," "Aliens," "The Thing" and "A.I." included. A frequent collaborator with Steven Spielberg and James Cameron,Winston teamed with the latter in 1993 to co-found Digital Domain, a company that would become one of Hollywood's foremost digital and visual effects studios. Stan Winston Studios fueled everything from "Pearl Harbor" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" to the upcoming "G.I. Joe" and "Avatar."
Having spent several decades as the go-to talent for fantastical blockbusters' top-notch creations, Winston did much more than simply stick those "Scissorhands" claws on Johnny Depp. He inspired countless artists and launched untold careers in the industry, and he will be sorely missed.
"Throughout his career, Winston was a tireless advocate for the makeup and creature effects community," the statement explained of his influence. "He campaigned for the creation of a makeup effects category for the Academy Awards, and he is credited with securing greater recognition overall for makeup and creature effects artists."
The Stan Winston Studio statement also offered a quote from Cinefex magazine publisher Don Shay on his passing: "For Stan, the measure of his work was never in the techniques and technology employed and pioneered at his studio. ... He was a 'character creator,' as he liked to be called, and artistry was his only benchmark. Stan Winston will always be remembered as the man who transformed Arnold Schwarzenegger into the Terminator and who built a full-size robotic T. rex for 'Jurassic Park'. But he was more than the sum of his greatest achievements. He was a devoted family man, a beloved patriarch to his stable of artists and a master artist and sculptor in his own right."
At the time of his death, Winston and his company had been working on Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island," Cameron's "Avatar" and several other projects. He was also planning to return to his beloved dinosaurs soon, as visual-effects supervisor on "Jurassic Park IV." The degree to which Winston's work on such films was completed remains unclear at this time.
Winston is survived by his wife, Karen; son, Matt; daughter, Debbie; daughter-in-law, Amy; son-in-law, Erich; four grandchildren, Rowan, Wyatt, Georgia and Pheona; and brother Ronnie Winston. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the following charitable organizations:
Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research
9201 W. Sunset Blvd., Suite 300
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Free Arts for Abused Children
12095 W. Washington Blvd., #104
Los Angeles, CA 90066
United States Fund for UNICEF
333 East 38th St.
New York, NY 10016
[This story was originally published at 4:45 pm E.T. on 06.16.2008]