STUART Freeborn, the pioneering make-up artist behind Yoda, Jabba the Hutt and Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, has died. He was 98.
LucasFilm confirmed that Freeborn had passed away, "leaving a legacy of unforgettable contributions".
Star Wars director George Lucas said in a statement that Freeborn was "already a makeup legend" when he started working on Star Wars.
"He brought with him not only decades of experience, but boundless creative energy," Lucas said.
"His artistry and craftsmanship will live on forever in the characters he created.
"His Star Wars creatures may be reinterpreted in new forms by new generations, but at their heart, they continue to be what Stuart created for the original films."
Freeborn's genius in action
Freeborn's granddaughter, Michelle Freeborn, said he died in London from a combination of ailments due to his age.
Ms Freeborn, who lives in Wellington, said her grandfather was "like a hero" to her and inspired her and her late father to get into the movie business, too.
But he will likely be best remembered for his work on Star Wars.
Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner noted before he died "that Freeborn quite literally put himself into Yoda, as the Jedi master's inquisitive and mischievous elfin features had more than a passing resemblance to Freeborn himself".
Yoda's looks were also said to be partly inspired by Albert Einstein.