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Makeup Artist Dick Smith Has Died at 92

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 31, 2014 at 1:26PM

Makeup artist Rick Baker tweeted the news Thursday morning that his mentor, the legendary Dick Smith, had died, at age 92. He did makeup effects for "The Godfather" I and II, "Scanners," "The Exorcist," "Altered States," and "Little Big Man."
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Governor Award Winners Oprah Winfrey and Dick Smith
Governor Award Winners Oprah Winfrey and Dick Smith

The most moving presentation at the 2011 Academy Governors Awards went to makeup artist Dick Smith ("The Godfather" I and II, "Scanners," "Altered States," "Little Big Man").

Makeup artist Rick Baker tweeted the news Thursday morning that his mentor had died, at age 92. Smith inspired hero worship in Governors Awards presenters Baker and J.J. Abrams "before any of us had heard of a pixel," said the "Star Trek" director. Smith befriended young actress Linda Blair as she submitted to his most difficult career challenge, turning her into the vomit-hurling, neck-wracked Devil in "The Exorcist." He stuffed straws up her nose, whited out her eyes with contacts, and wrapped her like a mummy in polyester strips. He cast every part of her anatomy. He extended her teeth and tongue and put goo in her hair. "It was not a little girl's dream," Blair said.

"He's the greatest makeup artist alive," said Baker. Overcome with emotion, Smith accepted the award to a rousing standing ovation. "I have loved being a makeup artist so much," Smith said, "but this puts a crown on all of that. I am so grateful."

Smith also won the Makeup Artists Lifetime Achievement Award at the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylist Guild Awards, accepting praise for his legendary makeup transformations in television and on films such as “Taxi Driver,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Marathon Man,” “Death Becomes Her" and his Oscar-winning feat with F. Murray Abraham as Antonio Salieri in “Amadeus.”  (Variety obit here.)

This article is related to: Obit


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.