June 17, 2008 / 12:09 AM / 10 years ago

Acclaimed Hollywood film effects artist dead

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pioneering special effects and makeup artist Stan Winston, a four-time Oscar winner who transformed Arnold Schwarzenegger into “The Terminator” and brought dinosaurs to life in the “Jurassic Park” films, has died at age 62, his studio said on Monday.

Special effects creator Stan Winston displays his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in this February 23, 2001 file photograph. The Stan Winston Studio told the Los Angeles Times on June 16, 2008 that Winston, 62, an Oscar-winning visual effects artist died at his Los Angeles home on June 15, 2008 after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma. REUTERS/Frederick Brown/Files

Winston, whose studio’s work was on display in the high-tech armored suits worn by Robert Downey Jr. in the current superhero blockbuster “Iron Man,” died at home in Malibu, California, on Sunday surrounded by family.

He had fought a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma, a cancer of blood plasma cells, a spokeswoman for the Stan Winston Studio said.

Winston, a collaborator with such filmmaking giants as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Tim Burton, was best known for his landmark physical effects and animatronics, and later for blending them seamlessly with computer-graphics imagery.

Winston crafted some of modern cinema’s most breathtaking creatures, including the terrifying monsters of “Aliens” and the killer cyborgs of “The Terminator” and its sequel for Cameron.

In the makeup department, Winston worked with Burton to create the bizarre, shear-fingered looks of Johnny Depp in “Edward Scissorhands” and Danny DeVito’s grotesque Penguin guise in “Batman Returns.”

But Winston’s most celebrated creations were the prehistoric reptiles he brought to life in Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”

The design and construction of the life-size, robotic dinosaurs, including a two-story-tall tyrannosaurus rex in “Jurassic Park,” were heralded as a pioneering technical feat in movie magic.


Winston, however, was said to be most proud of the artistic imagination and craft he brought to his work.

“He was a ‘character creator,’ as he liked to be called, and artistry was his only benchmark,” said Don Shay, publisher of Cinefex magazine and a chronicler of Winston’s career.

Winston once compared the talent in his studio to “the finest painters, sculptors and artists of the Renaissance.”

His body of work spanned four decades in television and movies, including 75 feature films, and earned 10 Academy Award nominations in all.

He won four Oscars — one each for visual effects and makeup in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and two more for visual effects in “Aliens” and “Jurassic Park.”

His last Oscar nomination was for the eerily human-like walking, talking stuffed Teddy bear in the Spielberg-directed sci-fi drama “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.”

Winston also was one of the first in his profession to build his own special effects house into a viable business, creating a model for others to follow, said Shane Mahan, one his effects supervisors and business partners.

It was with Cameron and fellow effects artist Scott Ross that Winston later co-founded Digital Domain, one of the Hollywood’s leading CGI studios. Winston and Cameron resigned from that company in 1998.

At the time of his death, Winston was in the process of expanding his own studio into the new Winston Effects Group, with a team of senior effects supervisors heading the company.

A native of Arlington, Virginia, Winston originally aspired to become an actor, but launched his career behind the camera after completing a three-year makeup apprenticeship at Walt Disney Studios in 1972.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Bill Trott

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