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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)

Hi i just wanna say that Stan Winston is truely a Artistic man i enjoy is creation of character design. I admire his work i really can't find words to say i am still shock about what happen but i know he is still with us and for the family of Winston god will never leave nobodys side no matter what. Stan will always live on insides ours hearts an memories God bless you all and God bless Stan Winston rest in peace.

This is really a sad news. I am a Winston fan. he was a great man, a great artist and a great inspiration for me, my condolences to his friends and family.


Stan never knew he gave me one of the best days of my life when I had the opportunity to visit his studio. I never knew him personally but I have spent many enchanting moments relishing his creations which will continue to be enjoyed by millions.

That is quite a legacy.

I had many friends that worked and supported the concepts of Stan Winston. They learned and he learned how to make analog designs for the film business. Sadly, this is old Hollywood. today we have fast paced films with slick designs from builders that never rolled up their sleeves and got theirs hands dirty. Maybe a broken nail from a keyboard. Ah well, Onward and Upward.

What is most troubling... what caused Stan's disease? Steriods? Chemical exposure from the builds? No one is asking that question. It is most important in his legacy as well as his work.


... this is a shock... i can't believe he has passed. indeed one of the best of the best, if not the best, he will be missed.

my life has bean altered after doing a presentation on stan winston in grade school, after that I wanted to become an efx master. that is just me, he has moved the lives of many people.

Rest in Peace Stan. What a wonderful moments I live of SFX with all his works in pictures. I don´t believe it. This people don´t must die. Unforgetable professional in USA cinema industry. From Spain, greetings.

I heard it from one of myspace friends . He was a impressive visual effects artist. I truly loved his work . God Bless Stan

If the flutter of a butterfly's wings in Africa can have an effect on the wind in Texas, imagine what effect Stan Winston's legacy will have on the future of humanity!

Stan Winston is a part of who I am. He's a part of who we all are. It hurts so much to lose him. His work will live in mine and so many of you and many others through his influence.

I grew up in rural Southeast Missouri. Phil Tippet, Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Tom Savini, Dick Smith, Jim Hensen, and Stan Winston were my heroes. I studied painting and printmaking at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago and then went on to Yale University where I earned an MFA in painting and printmaking in 1999. After New Haven I moved to Brooklyn, New York and I've been here working on my art work ever since. In art school we learned all about conceptualism, minimalism, expressionism, neo-expressionism, etc. etc. The art of Stan Winston and his colleagues and peers was never discussed. In that cloistered world of academic fine art, Stan et al were my anchor. I know that they were for many others too.

Thank you Stan et al for all you have done and will do. You were one of the greatest human beings ever.

With love and respect to the Stan Winston family,
John Mitchell

Thank you Stan Winston for the legacy you have left behind for the many people who were fortunate to work with you, to enjoy your work and to experience your talent whether first hand or through the films you were a part of. May God take pleasure in your company and watch over your family in this difficult time.

Thank you for enriching so many people's life with your own.

God bless you Stan.

why god always take the best first? he just wants them near him i think.
Stan has given me so much .
thank you Stan.You will be missed by the world.
Rest in Peace

Pirouz Ghayouri

RIP Stan Winston, you are one of the greats in Cinema history. Your work with visual effects will go down in cinema history just like the word of stop motion animation perfected by Willis O' Brien and Ray Harryhausen.

Stan "The Man" Winston,need I say more?

R.I.P. my friend,thank you for your memorable creatures and unforgettable movie moments.May your legacy live on.Truly a great loss.


I thank Mr. Winston for being such a great inspiration to me and to so many others. Bless you Stan, and bless your legacy. Rest in peace sir.

I was looking at some of Mr. Stan Winston's work online and was sad to see a link which said that he had died I could not believe it I had to see if it was for real,sadly enough it was, Stan Winston was a prodigy and has changed cinematography forever the films in which worked on are his legacy, William C. Morales Cleveland Ohio.

Was anyone else in all of Hollywood responsible for so many incredible creations? A tragic loss to the movie industry. The only positive is the fantastic legacy he leaves behind.

man it really is sad that a mater of the arts is going but well always be remembered, my first movie creater i ever liked was the predator, thanxs for all the moment you have brought to big screan, my son will also remember you becase his a predator fan and a huge fan of the jerssic park movies will the 1,2.... just to say because of you movie predator i've been drawing this creature of yours for man years now and almost feel brave to do a master peiace of it... R.I.P stan you will always be remembered in my family of predator fans...

holy.. i just read that he died:-(

and i didn't even know.. R.I.P mr. winston great work;-)

It came as a real shock to me when I saw credits to one of the last Terminator series of movies. I've enjoyed all your characters you have created from ALIENS to TERMINATOR and think , the world has lost a lot. I hope the school of visual arts and special effect be created with your name and it deserves recognition for some of the most creative and great movies you have been associated with. R.I.P and hope the industry does not forget your contribution You will live in our hearts.

Man, Wow,
This man was one of my heroes. I was always into how things were made. Then I heard the name Stan Winston. I always wished I could have gone into the field of special effects make-up. This was the man when it came to the development of characters that start off inanimate and then are brought to life. I love Stan Winston and will really miss what would have come next from him. I just pray that his team continues his legacy in the highest of caliber.

Stan Winston was the magic man who created some of the greatest, most memorable images in movie history. He inspired me greatly and I can not believe he is dead at such a young age.

dam that sucks! Stan Winston was the master of realistic robotics... nobody will ever match his creations...wow

Yes, he will be missed . Hes and the studio still uses the Amiga computer as its the best system. Macs are just pcs nothing special. Stan knew this. I met him along with Spielberg and Lucas . As they all still use the Amiga

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