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 70)
Alma materAcademy of Art University
OccupationSpecial make-up effects artist, actor
Years active1971–2017
Elaine Baker
(m. 1974⁠–⁠1984)
Silvia Abascal
(m. 1987)

Richard A. Baker (born December 8, 1950)[1] is an American retired special make-up effects creator and actor. 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 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. Baker and his family moved to Covina, California when he was less than one year old.[1][3]


As a teen, Baker began creating artificial body parts in his own kitchen.[citation needed] He also appeared briefly[citation needed] in the fan production The Night Turkey, a one-hour, black-and-white video parody of The Night Stalker directed by William Malone. 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]

Baker received the inaugural Academy Award for Best Makeup for his work on An American Werewolf in London.[6] He also created the werewolf creature Michael Jackson transforms into in the music video Thriller. Subsequently, Baker has been nominated for the Best Makeup Oscar ten more times, winning on seven occasions, both records in his field.[7]

Baker at the 2011 Saturn Awards

Baker claims that his work on Harry and the Hendersons is one of his proudest achievements.[8] On October 3, 2009, he received the Jack Pierce – Lifetime Achievement Award title of the Chiller-Eyegore Awards.[9]

He was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Academy of Art University San Francisco in 2008.[10] He also contributes commentaries to the web series Trailers from Hell for trailers about horror and science fiction films.[11]

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

Baker announced his retirement on May 28, 2015: "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]

Acting roles[edit]

Baker played the title role in the 1976 remake of King Kong. 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: the John Landis film Into the Night as a drug dealer with a business card; Men in Black II as an MIB agent helping provide aliens with disguises; Men in Black 3 as a "brain alien"; Michael Jackson's music video Thriller as one of the zombies; The Haunted Mansion as multiple graveyard ghosts;[citation needed] The Wolfman as the Wolfman's first kill; and Rings as a flea market vendor.[16]

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.[3] He also has two daughters, Veronica and Rebecca.



Academy Awards for Best Makeup[edit]

Year Nominated work Result
1981 An American Werewolf in London Won
1984 Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Nominated
1987 Harry and the Hendersons Won
1988 Coming to America Nominated
1994 Ed Wood Won
1996 The Nutty Professor Won
1997 Men in Black Won
1999 Life Nominated
2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Won
2007 Norbit Nominated
2010 The Wolfman Won

BAFTA Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Result
1984 Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Won
1994 Ed Wood Nominated
1996 The Nutty Professor Won
2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Won
2001 Planet of the Apes Nominated

Saturn Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Result
1977 Star Wars Won
1978 The Fury Won
1980 The Howling Nominated
1981 An American Werewolf in London Won
1987 Harry and the Hendersons Nominated
1994 Ed Wood Won
Wolf Nominated
1995 Batman Forever Nominated
1996 The Nutty Professor Won
The Frighteners Nominated
1997 Men in Black Nominated
2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Won
Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Nominated
2001 Planet of the Apes Nominated
2002 The Ring Nominated
2003 The Haunted Mansion Nominated
2010 The Wolfman Won

Other awards[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Rick Baker Biography (1950-)".
  2. ^ a b "Rick Baker". Oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Fatman Begins, episode "The Legendary Rick Baker", 9/24/2019".
  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. Abstract only; full article requires subscription.
  7. ^ "Rick Baker".
  8. ^ Rebecca Murray. "Rick Baker on CGI, Changes in the Industry". About.com Entertainment. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
  9. ^ "Dread Central at the 2009 Chiller-Eyegore Awards and Halloween Horror Nights".
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "Rick Baker | Gurus |". Trailersfromhell.com. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  12. ^ Baguio, Lindsey (November 14, 2012). "Rick Baker to Receive Walk of Fame Star". hollywood.patch.com. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
  13. ^ "Rick Baker, special effects and make-up designer for 'Thriller,' to retire and auction off his collection - EW.com". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com.
  14. ^ "Make-Up Legend Rick Baker Retiring; Cites Lack of Good Work". Collider. May 28, 2015.
  15. ^ "Rick Baker Retiring; The FX World Will Not Be the Same". Slashfilm.
  16. ^ "Rick Baker - Actor Filmography", The Internet Movie Database, Retrieved May 3, 2017
  17. ^ Scheib, Richard (n.d.). "Octaman". Moria.

External links[edit]