Godfather of Movie Make-Up Dick Smith Has Passed Away at 92
Since most of the movie-going public is obsessed with the faces they see on the screen much more than the ones behind the camera, it takes a special kind of talent to gain acclaim and accolades to become known for a craft in Hollywood that isn't acting or directing. But one such talent was Dick Smith, nicknamed the "Godfather of Make-Up" for his incredible work as, you guessed it, a make-up artist. Literally living up to his name, Smith was responsible for impressive work in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, making Marlon Brando look a little less handsome with a lot more jowels. But today, Variety reports the make-up legend with nearly 70 years of amazing work in the entertainment industry has passed away at 92 years old.
Smith was also responsible for turning Linda Blair into the creepy, possessed little girl in The Exorcist, one of the most gruesome transformations ever seen on the big screen in 1973. The man was also responsible for helping with the gory shootout at the end of Taxi Driver, which cinephiles should already know had to be desaturated in post-production, because Smith's prosthetics and blood on the screen were just too realistic. Oh and Robert DeNiro didn't actually shave his hair into a mohawk. That's a bald cap with stubble and all. Here's Smith accepting the Makeup Artists Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011:
The Godfather of Make-Up has inspired a whole new generation of artists like Richard Taylor, Greg Cannom, Alec Gillis, Ve Neill, Kazuhiro Tsuji and Mike Elizalde. But perhaps the best known is Rick Baker, who lamented the passing of Dick Smith on Twitter:
The master is gone. My friend and mentor Dick Smith is no longer with us. The world will not be the same.
— Rick Baker (@TheRickBaker) July 31, 2014
Baker also said, "There’s never going to be another Dick Smith. Dick is, without a doubt, the greatest makeup artist who’s ever going to live." Other amazing work from Smith can be seen in iconic movies like Marathon Man, The Deer Hunter and Amadeus, not to mention notable work on lesser celebrated but still well-known movies like Death Becomes Her and Scanners. If you want to see more of Smith's work, check out this reel showing off his impressive work. No doubt Smith's work has and will continue to inspire many to the work of movie make-up magic, and for that we should all be grateful. Rest in peace.