Rick Baker

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Rick Baker
Rick Baker February 2015 (cropped).jpg
Baker in 2015
Born (1950-12-08) December 8, 1950 (age 72)
Alma materAcademy of Art University
Occupation(s)Special make-up effects artist, actor
Years active1967–2014, 2017–2018
Elaine Baker
(m. 1974⁠–⁠1984)
Silvia Abascal
(m. 1987)

Richard A. Baker (born December 8, 1950), known professionally as Rick Baker, is an American retired special make-up effects creator and actor.[1] He is mostly known for his creature designs and effects. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the inaugural award for the 1981 horror comedy film An American Werewolf in London.[2]

Early life[edit]

Baker was born in Binghamton, New York, to Doris (née Hamlin), a bank teller, and Ralph B. Baker, a professional artist. He and his family moved to Covina, California when he was less than one year old.[1][3]


As a teenager, Baker began creating artificial body parts in his own kitchen.[citation needed] He also appeared briefly in the fan production The Night Turkey, a one-hour, black-and-white video parody of The Night Stalker (1972), directed by William Malone.[citation needed] Baker's first professional job was as an assistant to prosthetic makeup effects veteran Dick Smith on the 1973 film The Exorcist.[2][4] While working on The Exorcist, Baker was hired by director Larry Cohen to design and create a mutant infant for Cohen's 1974 film It's Alive.[5]

At the 54th Academy Awards, Baker received the inaugural Academy Award for Best Makeup for his work on An American Werewolf in London (1981).[6] Subsequently, he has been nominated for Best Makeup ten more times, winning on seven occasions, both records in his field.[2] Baker also created the werecat creature Michael Jackson transforms into in the music video Thriller (1983).[7]

Baker at the 37th Saturn Awards in 2011

In 2008, he was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.[8] Baker also contributes commentaries to the web series Trailers from Hell for trailers about horror and science fiction films.[9] Baker claims that his work on Harry and the Hendersons (1987) is one of his proudest achievements, for which he won his second Oscar.[10] On October 3, 2009, he received the Jack Pierce Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chiller-Eyegore Awards.[11]

On November 30, 2012, Baker received the 2485th star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star is located in front of the Guinness World Records Museum.[12]

On May 28, 2015, Baker announced his retirement, saying: "First of all, the CG stuff definitely took away the animatronics part of what I do. It's also starting to take away the makeup part. The time is right, I am 64 years old, and the business is crazy right now. I like to do things right, and they wanted cheap and fast. That is not what I want to do, so I just decided it is basically time to get out. I would consider designing and consulting on something, but I don't think I will have a huge working studio anymore."[13][14][15]

In 2018, Baker was approached by DC Comics, due to his daughter Veronica working for them at the time, if he would be interested in creating a collectible display bust for them. He agreed with the following terms that he would be left alone with total creative freedom and DC accepted them. Baker, with the aide of his long time mold maker Rob Freitas, created a bust of The Joker.[16]

Acting roles[edit]

Baker played the title role in the 1976 remake of King Kong.[17] In the 2005 remake, he had a cameo as the pilot and gunner (with director Peter Jackson) who shot down Kong. He has also made cameo appearances in: Michael Jackson's music video Thriller (1983) as "Zombie Opening the Crypt"; Into the Night (1985) as a drug dealer with a business card; Men in Black II (2002) as "MIB Passport Control Agent", an MIB agent helping provide aliens with disguises; Men in Black 3 (2012) as "Brain Alien"; The Wolfman (2010) as "Gypsy Man / First Killed"; and Rings (2017) as a flea market vendor.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Baker is married; he was previously married to Elaine Melba Parkyn for ten years. He met his second wife, hairstylist Silvia Abascal, while they were both working on Into the Night (1985).[3] Baker also has two daughters, Rebecca and Veronica.[19]

Selected filmography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result
1982 An American Werewolf in London Best Makeup Won
1985 Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Nominated
1988 Harry and the Hendersons Won
1989 Coming to America Nominated
1995 Ed Wood Won
1997 The Nutty Professor Won
1998 Men in Black Won
2000 Life Nominated
2001 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Won
2008 Norbit Nominated
2011 The Wolfman Won

BAFTA Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result
1985 Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Best Make Up/Hair Won
1996 Ed Wood Nominated
1997 The Nutty Professor Won
1998 Men in Black Best Special Effects Nominated
2001 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Best Make Up/Hair Won
2002 Planet of the Apes Nominated

Saturn Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result
1978 Star Wars Best Make-up Won
1979 The Fury Won
1981 The Howling Nominated
1982 An American Werewolf in London Won
1988 Harry and the Hendersons Nominated
1991 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Best Special Effects Nominated
1995 Ed Wood Best Make-up Won
Wolf Nominated
1996 Batman Forever Nominated
1997 The Nutty Professor Won
The Frighteners Nominated
1998 Men in Black Best Special Effects Nominated
Best Make-up Nominated
1999 Mighty Joe Young Best Special Effects Nominated
2001 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Best Make-up Won
Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Nominated
2002 Planet of the Apes Nominated
2003 The Ring Nominated
2004 The Haunted Mansion Nominated
2011 The Wolfman Won

Other awards[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Rick Baker Biography (1950-)". Film Reference.
  2. ^ a b c "Rick Baker". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "The Legendary Rick Baker!". YouTube. September 24, 2019. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  4. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (July 31, 2014). "Dick Smith dies at 92; 'Exorcist' makeup man won Oscar for 'Amadeus'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  5. ^ Martin, R. H. (August 1984). "Rick Baker: The Wonder Years Part Three". Fangoria. No. 37. Starlog Group, Inc. pp. 31–32. ISSN 0164-2111.
  6. ^ Barnes, Mike (August 4, 2009). "Makeup artist Howard J. Smit dies". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 12, 2009.
  7. ^ Navarro, Meagan (October 29, 2018). "[It Came From the '80s] The Enduring Legacy of John Landis, Rick Baker, and Michael Jackson's "Thriller"". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  8. ^ "Academy of Art University to Preview NOVA's "Becoming Human" — Students Modeled Recreations of Neanderthal Physiology". academyart.edu. Academy of Art University. October 25, 2009. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  9. ^ "Rick Baker". Trailers from Hell. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  10. ^ Murray, Rebecca (July 18, 2006). "Rick Baker on CGI, Changes in the Industry". About.com. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
  11. ^ Barton, Steve (October 3, 2009). "Dread Central at the 2009 Chiller-Eyegore Awards and Halloween Horror Nights". Dread Central. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
  12. ^ a b Baguio, Lindsey (November 14, 2012). "Rick Baker to Receive Walk of Fame Star". Hollywood Patch. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
  13. ^ Dornbush, Jonathan (May 28, 2015). "Rick Baker, special effects and make-up designer for 'Thriller,' to retire and auction off his collection". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  14. ^ Chitwood, Adam (May 28, 2015). "Make-Up Legend Rick Baker Is Retiring; Cites Studios Wanting "Cheap and Fast" Over Quality". Collider. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  15. ^ Fischer, Russ (May 28, 2015). "Visual Effects Legend Rick Baker Is Retiring From Filmmaking". /Film. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  16. ^ Morrison, Matt (October 23, 2018). "Exclusive: How Rick Baker's the Joker Bust Was Crafted [Time-Lapse Video]". Screen Rant. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  17. ^ Lambie, Ryan (March 10, 2017). "The Struggles of King Kong '76". Den of Geek. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  18. ^ ""Rick Baker - Actor Filmography"". IMDb. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  19. ^ Quinton, Angela (October 31, 2018). "Rick Baker's daughters Rebecca and Veronica become a new American Werewolf & her victim for Halloween". Werewolf News. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  20. ^ Scheib, Richard. "Octaman (1971)". Moria Reviews.
  21. ^ "Outstanding Achievement in Makeup - 1974". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved June 11, 2022.

External links[edit]