Oscar winner Stan Winston dies

Visual effects master earned four Academy Awards

Stan Winston, the Oscar-winning special effects, creature and makeup artist whose innovative creations include the full-scale animatronic dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park" and the futuristic Terminators, has died. He was 62.

Winston died Sunday at his home in Malibu after a seven-year battle with myeloma, a Stan Winston Studio spokeswoman said.

During a film and TV career that spanned four decades, Winston collaborated with such filmmakers as Steven Spielberg and James Cameron and worked on some of his generation's most memorable films.

He won four Oscars, for the visual effects in "Jurassic Park," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Aliens" and for makeup on "T2." He also earned Oscar noms for his work on "AI: Artificial Intelligence," "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," "Batman Returns," "Edward Scissorhands," "Predator" and "Heartbeeps." He was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2001.

In the early years of his career, during which he worked primarily in television, Winston garnered five Emmy noms, winning for "Gargoyles" and "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman."

Praise for Winston poured in Monday from his showbiz friends and colleagues.

"Stan was a fearless and courageous artist/inventor," Spielberg said. "And for many projects, I rode his cutting edge from teddy bears to aliens to dinosaurs. My world would not have been the same without Stan. What I will miss most is his easy laugh every time he said to me, 'Nothing is impossible.' "

Producer Kathleen Kennedy told The Hollywood Reporter: "He has a tremendous impact in the world of special effects and makeup and bringing things to life that, for the most part, only existed in people's imaginations. We had an extraordinary working relations with Stan going back over 20 years. He was one of those wonderful personalities to have on the set because Stan was always laughing, always making jokes, and ultimately he delivered what you often thought was impossible."

Said Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: "The entertainment industry has lost a genius, and I lost one of my best friends with the death Sunday night of Stan Winston. What will live forever in my heart is the way that Stan loved everyone and treated each of his friends like they were family."

Dennis Murren, ILM's senior visual effects supervisor, said, "Stan took risks and said 'yes' when other creature people would say no, and that meant that you could make a movie like 'Jurassic Park.' That's what I think he will be remembered for and should be -- taking a chance because he wanted the movies to be as good as they could possibly be."

Murren added: "His work paralleled the growth of the industry, the growth of the tentpole movie."

Stan Winston Studio recently created the physical suit in "Iron Man."

"He was a giant," the film's director Jon Favreau said. "He was experienced and helped guide me while never losing his childlike enthusiasm. He was the king of integrating practical effects with CGI, never losing his relevance in an ever-changing industry.

"We were looking forward to future collaborations," he added. "I knew that he was struggling, but I had no idea that he would be gone so soon. Hollywood has lost a shining star."

Said David Gersh, Winston's longtime rep: "He was a kind person, a generous person, had a great sense of humor. There must be 25 characters that he created that are landmark, standout characters that have completely influenced the movie landscape over the last 20 years."

Winston was born April 7, 1946, in Arlington, Va. 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, where he graduated from its 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, he established Stan Winston Studio. The studio eventually contributed characters and effects to more than 75 feature films, several music videos and countless commercials.

In 1988, Winston directed his first feature, "Pumpkinhead." He also produced a series of horror films for HBO as well as a number of genre films, and he created a line of high-end toys based on some of his studio's iconic characters.

He was one of the founders of VFX house Digital Domain, with partners Cameron and Scott Ross. "Hollywood will miss Stan Winston, a larger-than-life creative powerhouse and a wonderful father, husband and grandpa," Ross said.

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

The studio's upcoming projects include "Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins," "G.I. Joe," "Shutter Island" and "Avatar." ∂

Winston is survived by his wife Karen; son Matt and daughter Debbie; and a brother, Ronnie Winston; and four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research, Free Arts for Abused Children and UNICEF.
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