Yoda and Chewbacca's make-up artist dies, aged 98

The make-up artist behind out of this world creatures such as Yoda and Chewbacca in the Star Wars films has died at the age of 98.

Stuart Freeborn, who was born in London, was described by the film's director George Lucas, as a "make-up legend", even before he started working on the Star Wars films.

Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith Credit: 2005 Lucasfilm Ltd/PA

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.

– George Lucas

Stuart Freeborn's granddaughter, Michelle Freeborn, said he died in London on Tuesday from a combination of age-related illnesses.

He was a really fun and imaginative individual. He gave you the feeling that if you wanted to achieve something, you should just get on and do it, and don't ever use excuses. He enjoyed life and the amazing world we live in.

– Michelle Freeborn
'Chewbacca' seen at the premiere of 'Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith'
'Chewbacca' seen at the premiere of 'Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith' Credit: Reuters
  • Born in London in 1914, Freeborn was the son of a Lloyds of London insurance broker
  • He resisted pressure to follow in his father's footsteps, because, he said, "I felt I was different"
  • He began his film career in the 1930s, working for Hungarian-born director Alexander Korda, and honing his make-up skills on stars including Marlene Dietrich and Vivien Leigh
  • After air force service during World War II, he worked on British cinema classics including The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and David Lean's 1948 version of Oliver Twist, including transformating Alec Guinness into Fagin
Stuart Freeborn applying a false nose to Albert Finney to transform him into Agatha Christie's Poirot
Stuart Freeborn applying a false nose to Albert Finney to transform him into Agatha Christie's Poirot Credit: Press Association

Freeborn will likely be best remembered for his work on Star Wars -- creating characters such as the 7-foot-tall wookie Chewbacca and the slug-like Jabba the Hutt.

He told a BBC documentary last year how he was appraoched by "this young fellow" named George Lucas, who told him, "I've written a script for a film called Star Wars.

Freeborn's wife, Kay, died in 2012. Freeborn's three sons, Roger, Ray and Graham, also died before him.