Rick Baker

Rick Baker
Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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Rick Baker
Film: South side of the 6700 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Makeup Artist
Born Dec. 8, 1950 in Binghamton, N.Y.

A seven-time Oscar winner whose credits include “Planet of the Apes,” “The Ring,” “Ed Wood,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video and dozens more, Rick Baker is arguably Hollywood's most famous and celebrated creature creator and makeup effects wizard.

Baker developed an interest in the fantastic in his youth, reading Famous Monsters of Filmland, the cult magazine devoted to science fiction, fantasy and horror cinema. Jack Pierce, the pioneer whose visionary work on the films in the Universal horror canon set the early standard for movie makeup effects, became an idol.

Baker's passion for otherworldly creations led him to apprentice with another modern makeup master, Dick Smith, on William Friedkin's landmark 1973 feature "The Exorcist."

It wasn't long before Baker won his first Oscar for 1981's "An American Werewolf in London," the John Landis horror comedy that featured a groundbreaking transformation sequence. Audiences watched as actor David Naughton's hands stretched into paws, fur sprouted over his body, his eyes turned yellow and his face elongated into a lupine snout.

In subsequent decades, Baker fashioned not just a number of other werewolves but also a menagerie of other monsters, including the aliens in the three "Men in Black" movies starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. He also worked on a number of Eddie Murphy comedies, such as "The Nutty Professor" and "Norbit."

In a May 2012 interview with The Times, Baker talked about his approach: "I wanted to make sure to always stay current, try to find new material and stay with the modern techniques. And half the time I invented my own techniques. ... It’s just fun to find new ways to do things.”

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1981 Best Makeup An American Werewolf in London Win
    1984 Best Makeup Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Nomination*
    1987 Best Makeup Harry and the Hendersons Win
    1988 Best Makeup Coming to America Nomination
    1994 Best Makeup Ed Wood Win*
    1996 Best Makeup The Nutty Professor Win*
    1997 Best Makeup Men in Black Win*
    1998 Best Visual Effects Mighty Joe Young Nomination*
    1999 Best Makeup Life Nomination
    2000 Best Makeup Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas Win*
    2007 Best Makeup Norbit Nomination*
    2010 Best Makeup The Wolfman Win*
    * A joint nomination shared with other people.

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