The Godfather of Makeup

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Dick smith (1922-2014) was a groundbreaking make-up artist whose work on films including The Exorcist, Little Big Man, Taxi Driver, The Godfather and Amadeus earned him the nickname “the godfather of special make-up effects” a modern makeup artist that developed a wide array of new processes and techniques for special effects makeups. He won an Academy Award for his work on Amadeus, where he performed some amazing old age makeup that was groundbreaking for the time.

He is also quite famous for his work on "The Exorcist," which transformed a young girl into a horrifying monster.

In his sophomore year at Yale he read a book about the tricks Hollywood make-up artists used during the filming of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941). He soon began to do make-up for the Yale drama group and decided to pursue a career in theatrical make-up when he graduated.

Makeup artists are normally a very secretive breed. When they discover a new technique, material, or process, they keep it under lock and key much like a magician. Dick, however, was willing to share anything and everything as long as you were willing to do the work and pay close attention to his instructions.

He gave back to his industry, developing PAX paint and multi-piece appliance make-up and authoring the Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-up Handbook, which inspired many young make-up artists, including Rick Baker and Richard Taylor.

He also created Dick Smith’s Advanced Professional Makeup Course, which became a vital part of many professional make-up artists’ education. According to Smith’s son David, the course has more Oscar-winning graduates than any other make-up school or training program in the world.

If you are at all interested in the word of special effects makeup (or special effects in general) I highly suggest reading more about Dick Smith. Here is some reading to get you started:





Happy Haunting!