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Makeup Artist Dick Smith Dies

Dick Smith and Rick Baker
Dick Smith and Rick Baker
Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Legendary makeup artist Dick Smith has died at age 92 in Los Angeles following a long illness.

USA Today reported that Smith’s passing was announced Thursday by his friend and fellow makeup artist Rick Baker.

Smith worked on such films as Little Big Man (1970), Taxi Driver (1976), Death Becomes Her (1992) and Forever Young (1992). He won an Oscar for his makeup work on Amadeus (1984), where he applied aging makeup to F. Murray Abraham’s Solieri, and was nominated again for Dad (1989), in which he aged Jack Lemmon’s character.

However, Smith’s most famous makeup work was in both in The Godfather (1972), in which he applied subtle but memorable skill to age Marlon Brando’s character, and The Exorcist (1973), in which he transformed Linda Blair into a frightening demon. The makeup for the latter film reportedly took five hours to apply.

Smith’s career began when he attended Yale University, where, according to the New York Times, he intended to become a dentist. Instead, he went on to become the first makeup director at NBC after he came across a book entitled Paint, Powder and Makeup.

Smith soon found himself working on such series as Dark Shadows and even applied makeup to Hal Holbrook to make him resemble Mark Twain.

He published a book, Dick Smith's Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-up Handbook, in 1965 as a special edition of Forrest J. Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.

Smith’s final film was House on Haunted Hill (1999). In recent years, Smith taught his skills to aspiring makeup artists.

He was honored with a lifetime achievement Academy Award in 2012, making him the first makeup artist to win an honorary Oscar.

"The master is no longer with us, but his work will live on,'' Baker said."There will never be another like Dick. He and his work changed the industry.''

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