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Stan Winston, dead at 62; Oscar-winning visual effects artist suffered from multiple myeloma

Stan Winston with his animatronic

Stan Winston, an Oscar-winning visual effects artist, has died at age 62.

Winston died at his Malibu home Sunday evening after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma, according to a rep from Stan Winston Studio.

"Stan died peacefully at home surrounded by family," a spokeswoman said.

Winston won four  visual effects Oscars and earned multiple nominations. His first Oscar was for James Cameron's "Aliens" (1986). Winston later won two Oscars for "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1992) (visual effects and makeup) and 1993's "Jurassic Park." (See Stan Winston's Creature Features, by LAT's Patrick Kevin Day.)

Phil Tippett, who shared a visual effects Oscar with Winston on "Jurassic Park," noted that Winston was one of the best in the business.

"Stan contributed to some of the greatest -- fantastic movie characters in motion picture history," Tippett said. "His loss is a great one and he will be missed."

Producer Gale Ann Hurd, whose latest blockbuster "The Incredible Hulk" opened this weekend, wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times:

I was first introduced to Stan in the early 1980s by his mentor, the great make-up artist, Dick Smith. Jim Cameron and I had initially approached Dick to create the Terminator.  Dick wanted us to meet Stan Winston, his protégé, and convinced us that he was doing us a favor by turning us down. Dick was right. Stan’s unique ability was to bring unique, non-human characters to life, so that the audience accepted them as living, breathing beings. Stan was also, simply put, the nicest man in the business. Not only was he a legend, redefining character make-up and armatures, but Stan’s joie de vivre made collaborating with him an absolute pleasure. I will miss him more than I can say. My heartfelt sympathy to his loving family, Karen, Matt and Debbie.

In lieu of flowers, Winston's family is requesting that donations be made to his charities of choice.

After the jump, see the official statement from Stan Winston Studio, and a list of charities.

-- Sheigh Crabtree

Photo: Courtesy Stan Winston Studio.


Academy Award-winning makeup, creature and visual effects artist Stan Winston died Sunday at his home in Malibu, California, after a prolonged illness. He was 62.

Stanjurassicjpg In a career that spanned four decades, Winston worked extensively in television and motion pictures, producing innovative work that was often honored for its artistic and technical achievement. In the early years of his career, during which he worked primarily in television, Winston earned five Emmy nominations from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, winning for Gargoyles and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

Winston won his first Academy Award nomination in 1981 for Heartbeeps, and received another nine nominations – in both makeup and visual effects categories – over the next 20 years. He won a total of four Oscars for Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the groundbreaking Jurassic Park for which he created full-scale animatronic dinosaurs.

Winston received his star on Hollywood ’s Walk of Fame in 2001.

Current releases from Stan Winston Studio include summer hits IRON MAN and INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

Upcoming projects include  SHUTTER ISLAND, TERMINATOR 4, G.I. JOE, and James Cameron’s AVATAR. Winston was both collaborator and friend to giants in the film community.

[Winston Studio plans to later release quotes from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Tim Burton, et cetera.]

Winston was born April 7, 1946 in Arlington, Virginia. As a child, he enjoyed drawing, puppetry and classic horror films. He continued to pursue his interest in art and performance as a student at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, graduating from the institution’s Fine Arts and Drama programs in 1968. He headed West after graduation with dreams of becoming an actor, but found his true calling as a makeup artist and creator of characters – a career that enabled him to merge his sensibilities as an artist and performer.

After completing a three-year makeup apprenticeship program at Walt Disney Studios in 1972, Winston established Stan Winston Studio in the garage of the small house in Northridge he shared with his wife, Karen, and his young son, Matthew and daughter Debbie. The studio changed locations and grew in size, personnel and stature as his career advanced with work in high-profile films such as The Terminator, Predator, Edward Scissorhands, Interview with the Vampire, Lost World, Batman Returns, and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.

Stan Winston Studio contributed characters and effects to more than 75 feature films, several music videos, and countless commercial spots. In 1988, Winston directed his first feature film, Pumpkinhead, a cult favorite. Winston also produced a series of horror films for HBO, as well as a number of genre feature films, and created a line of high-end toys based on some of his studio’s iconic characters.Stan Winston and Ahhhnold

Throughout his career, Winston was a tireless advocate for the makeup and creature effects community. He campaigned for the creation of a makeup effects category for the Academy Awards, and he is credited with securing greater recognition overall for makeup and creature effects artists.

At the time of his death, Winston was in the process of morphing his physical makeup and effects studio into the new “Winston Effects Group” with the team of senior effects supervisors heading up the new company. Managing the new company as partners and owners are veteran effects supervisors John Rosengrant, Shane Mahan, Alan Scott and Lindsay Macgowan.

In addition to his professional achievements, Winston was a gifted artist who particularly enjoyed sculpting fine art pieces; however, he rejected the notion that there was a significant difference between ‘fine’ art and the ‘commercial’ art for which his studio was famous.

 “For Stan, the measure of his work was never in the techniques and technology employed and pioneered at his studio,” said Don Shay, publisher of Cinefex Magazine and a key chronicler of Winston’s career.

“He was a ‘character creator,’ as he liked to be called, and artistry was his only benchmark. Stan Winston will always be remembered as the man who transformed Arnold Schwarzenegger into the Terminator and who built a full-size robotic T-rex for Jurassic Park. But he was more than the sum of his greatest achievements.  He was a devoted family man, a beloved patriarch to his stable of artists, and a master artist and sculptor in his own right.”

 Stan died peacefully at home surrounded by family Sunday evening. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother. He is survived by his wife, Karen, son Matt, daughter Debbie, daughter-in-law Amy, son-in-law Erich, 4 beautiful grandchildren Rowan, Wyatt, Georgia, and Pheona, and brother Ronnie Winston. In lieu of flowers the family is requesting that donations be made to the following charitable organizations:

Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research

9201 W. Sunset Blvd. Ste 300

West Hollywood, CA 90069

Free Arts for Abused Children

12095 W. Washington Blvd. #104

Los Angeles, CA 90066


United States Fund for UNICEF

333 East 38th Street

NY, NY 10016


All photos courtesy Stan Winston Studio.

Comments () | Archives (97)

Thanks for the memories, Stan. I'll never forget all the hours of enjoyment you provided me and the rest of the world! RIP!

stan- you are at the top of my head in thought. all of our interactions over the years have been blessed with great generosity on your part. i will think of you often and miss you always. my love to Karen, Matt and Debbie and the beloved grand children. wish we could have spent more time.
a sad, sad day.

What a tragic day. With my favourite film creative gone there are no films for me to look forward to. I really wish I could have worked with him.

Truly a Unique and Dynamic Individual who has a Profound impact on Films, with his special inventiveness and desire to create the BEST special effects possible ! His talent will influence generations ad infinitum ! God Bless, Stan Winston, and his Studio ......

My heart goes out to Mr. Winston's family. He will be truly missed by those of us who love film and the genuises who make it magical. God Bless you Stan. Safe journey.

This is just sad. Most of the best special effects were created by Mr. Winston. I will always remember the incredible design he and James Cameron did for the Alien Queen.
Epic: seeing the T-800 rise from the flames in the final sequence of Terminator.
He will be missed.

God speed, Stan. Thanks for so much-- my best to his family and to everyone touched by his amazing creations.

Go practical FX!

It was with such sadness that we heard today of Stan's untimely death, he was far to young to leave his beloved family, his many friends, his crew and all of his fans. I was fortunate enough to have worked with him, he was always very supportive of my work, he was a great character to be with, fun and always ready to help. We will never know what other amazing creatures he may have had in store for us all from Winston Studios. He will be missed by so many, it was a privilege to have know him.
With condolences to Karen and his family,
John and Angela Alexander

He created so many inspirational pieces of work with his mind and hands. I hope he makes movies in the stars. His work and inspiration will live within me and many others forever. He's completely free now and will continue to create amazing works through his energy in our universe.

I remember when I was down at a convention many years ago... just a Midwest kid, who dreamed of working in VFX... Somehow I made it to a party where I was introduced to Stan, who treated me with total kindness and encouragement to come out to LA and work for his company - it really made a big impression on me. Strangely enough that's exactly what DID happen, I got the job (although Stan moved on to start his own studio) and I never forgot how Stan seemed to recognize where I was coming from. Here's a guy who's a legend in the industry, above the line... taking his time out to encourage some random kid to pursue his dreams. I've been working in the industry for 12 years since but I still remember that moment. Although I never had the opportunity to work with Stan on a project, in a lot of ways I feel like he's a mentor. Thank you Stan, your talents will be missed, but your grace even more so.

I will so miss his infectious laughter, mischevious spirit and unending vision. A true genius in every sense of the word, and a good dear friend. Thank you Stan for all your trust and confidence throughout the years, and most of all, the generous gift of time with you and your family. A loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather, my thoughts and prayers go out to Karen, Debbie, Matt, Amy, Erich and R,W,P,G. Good night, sweet prince, may angels guide your way.

Than you stan for making the creatures that "MAKE" the movies.

A couple of years ago I was designing and building effects for a small project. Frustrated I emailed Stan expecting no reply thinking that he would be too busy doing big Hollywood numbers. I was very wrong Stan encouraged me to keep at it and gave me plenty of advice. He was very humble in helping someone out at the start of their career.

This shows the fine character of the man and how open he was. He also remembered his roots. He did not have to help me out but he did. My love and blessings go to his family and friends. He will be sorely missed throughout the industry. The positive thing is he left his mark on many upcoming make up artists and effects people. You left the effects world a better place.

I never blog, chat, or spend time on talk backs but this news has brought me here with tears in my eyes. I met Stan once at golden apple comics during a signing. He was nice enough to spend a few minutes with me to answer some questions i just couldnt help but ask. Any movie Stan Winston studios was a part of was a movie i had to see and he never disapointed. From the life size terminator in my living room to the Wiston effect book on my coffee table you could say i am a fan of his designs and his work. Seeing Dinasaurs come to life brought tears of joy to my eyes and made a believer out of me. One of Hollywoods great legends has passed on and i am eternaly grateful for the gifts he has left us all. Stan you will be missed by fans everywhere.


A creator of terminator has now gone to the big film set in the sky. Another great loss to us all. Best regards to all who knew him. The world is a little bit darker for his passing.

He's a true legend

I'm not really even sure what to write, I am so shocked. To think of a world without Stan Winston? This is a man who deserves just as many accolades and tributes as the late Tim Russert. And if you are a movie fan like I am, you know he deserves even more than that. If a movie monster or a makeup effect ever made you scream, flinch or made your jaw drop in wonder, there's a pretty good chance that if Stan didn't create or build it, he had something to do with it.

I always had a wish to "become" a movie monster, and he was always at the top of my wish list as the man to perform the transformation. I'm sorry that I'll never have that opportunity. I'm sorrier still that there will be no more magic from the man who has given us so much during his lifetime.

Thank you, Mr. Winston, and Godspeed...

Stan Winston was probably one of the the greatest effects artists in motion picture history. His contribution to modern popular culture ranks with achievements from some of the most recognizable names in Hollywood. We can only hope and pray that his great legacy will continue through the legendary studio that he created. He will always be missed...

This is such a terrible shock. Mr. Winston had such an amazing body or work, and the tributes above are a true testament to his achievements as a person.

A personal irony is that on Sunday we had flipped the TV to a broadcast showing of "Jurassic Park," which our 13-year old daughter had never seen from start to finish. We all stopped and watched the final 20 minutes, as I happily explained to Kat which raptor scenes involved robotics, and not the usual CGI that she's accustomed to. After the movie, there was Stan in a documentary, joking about how he felt "extinct" after watching the first CGI dinosaur footage. Well, we all know that wasn't the case. Yesterday, our daughter pulled out the Jurassic Park/Lost World DVDs and thrilled to them both. Thank you, Stan, for your wonderful movie magic that will entertain generations to come, and for your kind spirit.

I wouldn't know where to start describing the varied impacts your creativity and charm have had on me over the years, but I can simply say thank you for the wonderful memories Stan, you will be sorely missed. Condolences to his family.

There is a saying that says that the brightest stars burn the quickest and I can't help but remember that as I read this sad news. Thank you Stan for all the wonderful memories!God Speed. My condolences to your family.

Beyond his genius for creating creatures and putting together incredibly talented teams, I'm sure all who knew Stan will remember what a generous and kind man he was. Almost all that I hold as success in my career came as a result of my association with Stan. I will miss him dearly.

My heartfelt sympathies to his family.


Rest in Peace brother

Fade out:

Stan, believe it or not, made the original mask for Friday the13th Part 3.
I met him in 1982 and sat with him covered in "gunk" for days. What an amazing man, friend and mentor.
I am truly saddened by his passing.
Had it not been for Stan I would not of had a career, I still sign photos of Stan and myself together for all the fans that so believed and appreciated his work.
My heart and thoughts go out to his family.

R.I.P. my friend.....

Richard J. Brooker

Its simple....I will miss him greatly.....The man was and is a great inspiration to me...I was crushed this morning when I got the news....

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