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Profiles in Makeup Artistry: Rick Baker


Makeup Artist Rick Baker

Makeup artist Rick Baker holds holds records for the most Oscar wins for makeup design.

Of the 2485 stars awarded on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, only 8  have been for makeup. The 8th was awarded earlier today to S/FX legend Rick Baker. Baker’s dual ceremony added his name to both the Walk of Fame and The Guinness World Records Book.  Baker holds world records for the most Oscar nominations (12) and wins (7) in the field of makeup.  To commemorate this unique double honor, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce placed Baker’s star on Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Guinness World Records Museum.

Baker’s seven Oscar wins include:

  • An American Werewolf in London (1981)
  • Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
  • Ed Wood (1994)
  • The Nutty Professor (1996)
  • Men in Black (1997)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • The Wolfman (2010)

The first time I ever heard of Rick Baker was after he’d turned Eddie Murphy in to a little Jewish man in Coming to America. I actually sat through the credits because I wanted to know the person responsible for all those transformations.  When I started doing makeup professionally, I remembered his name and started to study his work and career.

Rick Baker Coming to America

Eddie Murphy in Coming to America Makeup by Rick Baker

What I learned from Rick Baker:

Be Memorable

When John Landis needed effects for his 1973 horror film Schlock he asked mask maker Don Post. Post declined but told him about a young customer that was always buying supplies from him….Rick Baker. This led to the pair eventually working together on An American Werewolf in London for which Baker won his first (in fact THE first ever awarded) Oscar for makeup.

Be Bold:

When Rick Baker wanted to meet his hero Dick Smith, he wrote him a letter. Smith was so impressed that he started mentoring Baker. That single act of boldness made the rest of his career possible.

Recognize opportunity:

After the filming of the famous “cantina sequence” in Star Wars, George Lucas decided he wanted to do a bit of embellishment even though the studio considered the project complete. Lucas was referred to Rick Baker. Rick Baker recognized this as an opportunity and did the job for “no money”. It paid off.


Fun Facts about Rick Baker

  • Rick Baker played King Kong in the 1976 version of the film.
  • Baker has an ironic cameo in the film Men in Black II. He plays an agent who helps turn aliens into passable humans.
  • Baker’s first professional work was in stop-motion animation for the faith-based series Davey and Goliath.

What’s Next for Rick Baker

Word is that Baker will collaborate with MAC Cosmetics to create a 15 piece collection due out in October (just in time for Halloween).

Baker has also designed the makeup for Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of my personal favorite baddie Maleficient in the movie due out in 2014.

Rick Baker Maleficent

Poster for upcoming feature film Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie with makeup by Rick Baker

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