I saw on the news this morning that Stuart Freeborn, the man who created the Yoda puppet (which was infinitely better than the CGI one) and lots of other makeup effects, died yesterday. He was 98, so it's not a big shock.
I've actually met him, but in a fairly odd way. During an excavation in a small Suffolk village, some old man came over to our van while we were eating lunch and started talking to us in a typical rambling old man fashion. When people find out there's archaeology going on, they always wander over and ask if you've found any treasure yet, and occasionally say they love archaeology and go metal detecting all the time (which is like telling a zoologist you poach rhinos in your spare time), so we just politely listened as he rambled on. Eventually he got to the point in his life story where he got into showbiz and said he made Yoda.
At the time we thought he might just be another confused old man, and sweet Cthulhu do you meet a lot of them as an archaeologist, but when I looked him up that night, sure enough, it was him, and one of the construction guys on site confirmed it. Apparently he had a whole collection of stories he liked to share, but we were only there long enough to see him the one time.
It was a memorable random encounter, and it was good to see how proud and excited he was of his creations so long after the fact. Of course, he might have been more excited about talking to the young lady I was working with.
Whoa. Jealous of you man. Even if the puppet is an old item used for the Star Wars trilogy, it was still a marvel of cinema back in the day. Almost everything was done with models and clever camera angle tricks.
To me that is truly a genius in film making. Thanks for sharing this!