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

June 16, 2008 | 11:57 am

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.

STAN WINSTON STUDIO RELEASE:

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.

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