Dick Smith, the Hollywood makeup legend who turned Linda Blair into a demon in The Exorcist and Marlon Brando into an aging mafia don in The Godfather, has died at the age of 92.
Smith's death, which came after a long illness, was announced by Smith's friend and fellow makeup artist Rick Baker on Thursday morning
"The master is no longer with us, but his work will live on,'' said Baker, a seven-time Oscar winner. "There will never be another like Dick. He and his work changed the industry.''
Rather than masks or rigid appliances, Smith's use of latex and other methods allowed actors to appear more natural even while wearing the most severe makeups. He painstakingly added decades to actor Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man and F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus, for which he won an Oscar.
Smith also created the shocking visage of Dorian Gray in a 1961 TV movie, Hoffman's Ratso Rizzo character in Midnight Cowboy and Robert De Niro's mohawked Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.
For The Exorcist, Smith shocked moviegoers with the transformation of a young girl possessed by the devil and the physical effect of spewing green vomit. The makeups took five hours before shooting even began.
"It wasn't until I worked on The Exorcist that there was even a call for the kind of change on camera that was required,'' Smith said later. The biggest challenge, he recalled, was trying to make look "mean this sweet little apple-cheeked girl.''
Smith began makeup work while at Yale. He served 15 years as NBC's first makeup director and worked on productions ranging from Dark Shadows (he memorably aged Jonathan Frid's Barnabas Collins), The Sunshine Boys and Marathon Man,
"To say Dick Smith was a genius in our craft is an understatement,'' said makeup artist and film historian Michael F. Blake. "He, like (Lon) Chaney, (Jack) Pierce and others, was a pioneer. He was a very giving teacher. Willing to help anyone who asked.''
In 2009, Smith received a lifetime achievement Academy Award. Director J.J. Abrams said then that many would ask Smith "How did you do that? It was Dick Smith who gave us the answers."
Obituary reproduced from USA today.
Visit Dick Smith's Official Website.