DICK SMITH, GODFATHER OF MAKEUP, DIES AT 92
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JULY 31, 2014 07:27AM PT
The legendary makeup artist was renowned for his realistic transformations in films like “The Godfather” and “Amadeus” — aging Marlon Brando into Don Corleone and F. Murray Abraham into a wizened Antonio Salieri — garnering an Academy Award for his work in the latter alongside Paul LeBlanc. In 2012, Smith was given an honorary Governor’s Academy Award for his contribution to the field, which was presented by Baker. Earlier this year, Smith received the Makeup Artists Lifetime Achievement Award at the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylist Guild Awards. He also won a Primetime Emmy in 1967 for his work on Hal Holbrook’s “Mark Twain Tonight!”
“Rarely have there been make-up artists with the legendary inventiveness, creativity and artistic excellence of Dick Smith,” Makeup Artists Guild President Sue Cabral-Ebert said of Smith in January. “Dick’s transparency and willingness to share the secrets of the craft have been the catalyst for young make-up artists all over the world to follow their imaginations and dreams.”
Smith was also responsible for realizing Linda Blair’s harrowing possession in “The Exorcist.” His other notable projects included “Taxi Driver,” “The Godfather: Part II,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Little Big Man,” “Scanners,” “Marathon Man” and “Death Becomes Her.”
Beginning his career as the makeup director for NBC in 1945, Smith was credited with pioneering a number of techniques that have since become industry staples, including experimenting with liquid foam latex to fabricate detailed elements that would allow actors more range of motion than a simple mask. In addition to Baker, Smith’s other notable students include Richard Taylor, Greg Cannom, Alec Gillis, Ve Neill, Kazuhiro Tsuji and Mike Elizalde.
Born in 1922, Smith discovered his passion for makeup while studying at Yale University, teaching himself the techniques that would shape his career after discovering a guide for theatrical makeup at a local bookstore. Smith is survived by wife Jocelyn De Rosa and two children.