Stan Winston, the four-time Oscar winner who pioneered some of Hollywood’s most memorable creature, character and special make-up effects, died June 16 in Malibu after battling multiple myeloma. He was 62.
Born April 7, 1946 in Virginia, Winston studied painting and sculpture at the University of Virginia; throughout his career, he enjoyed sculpting fine art pieces. He moved to Hollywood in 1968 to be an actor, but the following year he changed course and became an apprentice in the Walt Disney Studios Makeup Department, supervised by Robert Schiffer. It wasn’t a huge professional departure for the young Winston: As he told Make-Up Artist writer Joe Nazzaro in a 2001 interview, “I was the kid who loved the movies and loved the monsters and liked to scare people.”
Over the course of his career, Winston became best known as a creature creator. His lengthy filmography spans decades and includes either supervisory or participatory make-up, robotics and sculpture work on Iron Man, Constantine, the Terminator films, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Jurassic Park, Aliens, Predator, Inspector Gadget, Galaxy Quest, Artificial Intelligence: A.I., Interview with a Vampire, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Star Wars (designing Wookie costumes), Friday the 13th, Heartbeeps, The Wiz, Roots, The Thing, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittmanand many others. He won four Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, six Saturn Awards, three BAFTA awards and more than a dozen nominations overall.
He was a founding member of the visual effects companies Digital Domain, Stan Winston Digital and Stan Winston Studios. The studio contributed characters and effects to more than 75 feature films as well as several music videos and commercial spots. Winston produced a series of films under the banner Creature Features, and produced a line of toys and action figures called Stan Winston Creatures. He was an advocate for make-up and effects artists, and one of just a few special make-up effects artists to claim his own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. At the time of his death, he was transforming his physical make-up and effects studio into the Winston Effects Group. Managing the new company as partners and owners are veteran effects supervisors John Rosengrant, Shane Mahan, Alaan Scott and Lindsay Macgowan.
Winston is survived by his brother Ronnie, wife Karen, son Matt, daughter Debbie, daughter-in-law Amy, son-in-law Erich and four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that charitable donations be sent to the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Reasearch, Free Arts for Abused Children and the United States fund for UNICEF. Details about services will be announced at a later date.