By Justin Cook
Let me ask you a question. What do films such as The Godfather, The Exorcist, Taxi Driver, and The Deer Hunter all have in common? Besides the fact that they are all classic 70’s movies, and perhaps some of the greatest movies of all time, they all feature makeup done by Dick Smith. Today we receive news that Dick Smith, nicknamed “The Godfather of Makeup” has died at age 92.
Tweeting out the news was Rick Baker, a protégé of Dick Smith. The tweet read, “The master is gone. My friend and mentor Dick Smith is no longer with us. The world will not be the same.”
Famous for some of the most realistic and iconic makeup in the history of film, if it had not been for Smith the transformation of Marlon Brando into Vito Corleone, or F. Murray Abraham into Antonio Salieri wouldn’t have seemed as natural as it did to movie lovers still watching The Godfather and Amadeus today.
A legend among makeup artists, Smith won an Emmy in 1967 for Mark Twain Tonight! and an Oscar in 1985 for Amadeus. Not to mention he received an honorary Oscar in 2012 for his many advancements in the field of makeup artistry.
Smith didn’t use masks for transforming actors into their parts, but instead used latex, which enabled actors to appear more natural while wearing makeup.
One of the greatest achievements of Smith’s career was also his greatest challenge. This was turning Linda Blair into a terrifying girl, possessed by the devil in The Exorcist. Makeup reportedly took over 5 hours on the production of the film, but in the end shocked and scared moviegoers all over the world.
A pioneer of the craft and an inspiration for those looking to enter the movie makeup field themselves, Dick Smith was the best at what he did, and his legacy will live on.