Rick Baker

By S.M. Cooper

It was a dark and stormy night… That would be
a great beginning to a horror novel, and it has been
used over the years since it was coined in the 1700‘s;
however, the dark and stormy night I’m talking about
is the life that is called Richard Baker.  If you don’t
know who the man is, you must be living in a cave in
the Ozark Mountains.  Let me refresh your memory;
he is responsible for the “werecat” creature in the
1980’s music video, Thriller, and also the costume in
the 1976 version of King Kong.  Does the name ring
a bell now?  If not, how about this; How the Grinch
Stole Christmas?, starring Jim Carey, or maybe this movie; the remake of The
Planet of the Apes, in 2000?  If you still don’t have a clue who this story is about,
then you really live in a cave and aren’t able to get to town to watch the moving
pictures at the local Nickelodeon.

Richard (Rick) Baker was born on a winter’s day of December 8th, 1950, in the
small town in upstate New York, Binghamton.  He grew up to be one of America’s
greatest makeup artist in Hollywood.  His love for the movies started when he was
a teenager when he began to create body parts made from Plaster-of-Paris in his
mother’s kitchen.  He appeared in a parody of The Night Stalker, which was
dubbed The Night Turkey.  But his real break came when he became the assistant
to the veteran of prosthetics makeup artist Dick Smith on the major production,
The Exorcist.

Richard received the Inaugural
Academy Award for Best Makeup
and Hairstyling for his work on An
American Werewolf in London.  
Subsequently, he has been nomin-
ated for the Best Makeup and Hair-
styling Oscar ten more times, win-
ning on seven occasions, both
records in his field.  Richard claims
that his work on Harry and the
Hendersons is one of his proudest
achievements.  On October 3, 2009,
he received the Jack Pierce –
Lifetime Achievement Award title of
the Chiller-Eye-gore Awards.  He
was awarded a Doctorate of Humane
Letters from the Academy of Art
University San Francisco in 2008.  
He also contributes commentaries to
the web series Trailers From Hell for
trailers about horror and science fic-
tion films.  He 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.  He also received Academy Awards for Best Makeup and
Hairstyling in the following movies: Ed Wood, 1995, The Nutty Professor, 1997,
Men in Black, 1998, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 2001, The Wolfman, 2011.

Richard played the title role in the 1976 remake of King Kong.  In the 2005
remake, he had a cameo as the pilot and gunner who shot down Kong.  He also
made cameo appearances in: Men in Black II as an MIB agent helping to provide
aliens with disguises; in Men in Black III as a "brain alien"; Michael Jackson's music
video for Thriller as one of the zombies; The Haunted Mansion as multiple
graveyard ghosts; The Wolfman as the Wolfman's first kill; and the movie Into the
Night in1985.

With a career spanning more than forty years in the movie industry Richard Baker
never ceases to amaze the Hollywood producers with unique creations which
make ticket sales at the box office climb to millions of dollars for the industry.  
Below is a list of motion pictures that are credited to the infamous Richard (Rick)

1970's - Octaman (1971) (Octaman costume; with Doug Beswick), The Thing with
Two Heads (1972) (special effects), Schlock (1973) (makeup artist), It's Alive
(1974) (makeup artist), The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974) (makeup
artist), Track of the Moon Beast (1976) (makeup artist), Squirm (1976) (makeup
designer), The Incredible Melting Man (1977) (special makeup effects), Star Wars
Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) (makeup artist: second unit), The Fury (1978)
(special makeup effects)

1980's - The Howling (1981) (special makeup effects consultant), The Funhouse
(1981) (special makeup design), The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981)
(makeup effects), Videodrome (1983) (special makeup effects designer),
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) (special makeup
effects), My Science Project (1985) (special makeup effects artist), Captain EO
(1986) (special makeup effects), Ratboy (1986) (designer: Ratboy), Harry and the
Hendersons (1987) (makeup artist, creature designer: Harry), Beauty and the
Beast (1987–89) (creature designer: Beast), Werewolf (1987–88) (special
makeup effects artist), Coming to America (1988) (special makeup effects),
Gorillas in the Mist (1988) (special makeup effects, associate producer), Missing
Link (1988) (special makeup effects)

1990's - Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) (special effects supervisor, co-
producer), The Rocketeer (1991) (makeup creator: Lothar), Wolf (1994) (special
makeup effects), Ed Wood (1994) (makeup creator: Bela Lugosi, makeup
designer: Bela Lugosi), Batman Forever (1995) (special makeup
designer/creator), The Nutty Professor (1996) (special makeup effects), The
Frighteners (1996) (special makeup artist: The Judge), Escape from L.A. (1996)
(special makeup effects), Ghosts (1997) (special makeup effects artist), Men in
Black (1997) (alien makeup effects, special makeup effects artist), Critical Care
(1997) (special makeup effects: Mr. Brooks), Mighty Joe Young (1998) (special
makeup effects), Life (1999) (special makeup effects), Wild Wild West (1999)
(special effects makeup)

2000's - How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) (special makeup effects), Nutty
Professor II: The Klumps (2000) (special makeup effects), Planet of the Apes
(2001) (makeup artist, special makeup effects designer/creator), Men in Black II
(2002) (alien makeup effects, special makeup effects artist), The Ring (2002)
(special makeup effects artist), The Haunted Mansion (2003) (special makeup
effects artist), Hellboy (2004) (special effects director, special makeup effects
artist), The Ring Two (2005) (special makeup effects artist), Cursed (2005)
(special makeup effects artist, special makeup effects designer/creator), X-Men:
The Last Stand (2006) (special makeup effects consultant, visual effects
consultant), Click (2006) (special age makeup artist, special makeup effects
artist), Enchanted (2007) (special makeup effects artist), Norbit (2007) (special
makeup effects artist), Tropic Thunder (2008) (makeup designer: Mr. Downey,
Jr.), The Wolfman (2010) (special makeup effects), Tron: Legacy (2010) (special
makeup effects artist), Men in Black 3 (2012) (alien makeup effects, special
makeup effects artist), Maleficent (2014) (special makeup effects )
Making Monsters:
Spotlight on Hollywood's
Makeup Artists