It's ironic that rumours broke out over the last two days about standalone Star Wars films starring Jedi Master Yoda only to be reporting the passing of the man who created him today.

The BBC is reporting that Stuart Freeborn, the man that sculpted the original Yoda puppet for The Empire Strikes Back (as well as many other creatures and characters in the Star Wars saga, including Chewbacca and Jabba the Hutt), has passed away at the age of 98.

The look of Yoda was based largely on Einstein, according to Freeborn, though it looks as though it might have also been something of a self-portrait. He also contributed significantly to cinema outside the Star Wars films, doing make up and effects for movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Superman, The Great Muppet Caper, and even The Thief of Baghdad.

I'm sad to see such a skilled craftsman who contributed so much to the worlds I've loved pass on. But, at 98, it's safe to say he's made his mark on the world. In the immortal words of Master Yoda, ""We should rejoice for those around us who transform into the Force... Mourn them do not, miss them do not."

To watch a documentary about Freeborn, be sure to visit Club Jade.

UPDATE:
George Lucas, via the official Star Wars website, commented on the passing of Stuart Freeborn: "Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on Star Wars," said George Lucas. "He brought with him not only decades of experience, but boundless creative energy. His artistry and craftsmanship will live on forever in the characters he created. His Star Wars creatures may be reinterpreted in new forms by new generations, but at their heart, they continue to be what Stuart created for the original films."

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Tags: Top , Star Wars , In Memoriam