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‘Godfather of Makeup,’ Dick Smith, Dies at 92

Dick Smith, the Oscar-winning maestro of makeup who helped create the effects for ‘The Exorcist,’ dies at the age of 92.

'The Exorcist'

Dick Smith, the Oscar-winning maestro of makeup who helped create the effects for The Exorcist, has died, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter. Smith was 92.

The news was announced on Twitter by Smith’s protégé, seven-time Oscar winner Rick Baker.

"The master is gone. My friend and mentor Dick Smith is no longer with us. The world will not be the same," Baker wrote.

Smith died in Los Angeles at about 11 p.m. on Wednesday, his sons David and Douglas said.

Smith shared the Academy Award for makeup in 1985 with Paul LeBlanc for their work on Amadeus, in which they took F. Murray Abraham from his 40s into his 80s. Smith then received an honorary Oscar in November 2011.

Known as “The Godfather of Makeup,” Smith shared another Oscar nomination for transforming 65-year-old Jack Lemmon into an octogenarian in Dad (1989). Earlier, he made a bloody mess out of Anthony Quinn’s face in Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), fashioned Robert De Niro’s mohawk for Taxi Driver (1976) and transformed David Bowie into a vampire in The Hunger (1983).

Smith’s transformation of the angelic Linda Blair into a demon on the set of The Exorcist (1973) will never be forgotten. Other films on which Smith made his mark included It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The World of Henry Orient (1964), Midnight Cowboy (1969), The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Sunshine Boys (1975), Marathon Man (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Altered States (1980), Scanners (1981) and Starman (1984).

Smith got his professional start as the makeup director for then-fledgling network NBC in 1945, and he stayed there through 1959, developing new materials and pioneering the use of foam latex and plastics to fit the lightning pace of live TV. Smith’s ground-breaking method of gluing on multiple foam latex “appliances” in overlapping pieces -- rather than using single-mold masks -- permitted actors to employ their full range of facial expressions.

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Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.