Dick Smith, legendary make-up artist known for his groundbreaking and iconic work on such films as The Godfather, Amadeus, Altered States, Taxi Driver and The Exorcist, has passed away at age 92.
Born in Larchmont, New York, in 1922, Richard Emerson Smith began his career in 1945 as NBC’s first staff make-up artist and by 1950 was the head of the make-up department, training his own staff of 25 budding artists. His self-taught talents quickly earned him several Emmy nominations and a win in 1967 for Mark Twain Tonight!
After 14 years with NBC where he pioneered techniques using foam latex, plastics and make-up tones for colour television, Smith then moved on to the big screen.
His technical innovations in films such as Little Big Man and The Godfather were initially seen by his peers as unorthodox, however, those techniques soon became industry standards which are still used to this day. Smith went on to create some of his most memorable work transforming young Linda Blair into a demon-possessed child and aging Max Von Sydow thirty-seven years in The Exorcist, along with the landmark full-body latex suits and fantastical effects in Altered States.
In 1984, Smith began offering training through his advanced make-up course and has mentored some of the biggest names in the industry, from Oscar winning make-up artists Stan Winston, Greg Cannom and Rick Baker (who’s first professional job was assistant to Smith on The Exorcist), to directors Guillermo del Toro and J. J. Abrams.
Smith was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a retrospective tribute in 2009, and two years later he became the first make-up artist to receive an Honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement at the Governor’s Awards (watch Linda Blair’s speech here, and Smith’s emotional acceptance here).
With an astonishing career spanning over 60 years, Dick Smith’s timeless body of work, passion and generosity has influenced many and will continue to inspire for generations to come.
Rest in peace, "The Godfather of Make-Up."31 July, 2014 • 478 notes
Make-up artist Dick Smith, assisted by hair stylist Bill Farley, fits the vomiting apparatus on actress Eileen Dietz on the set of The Exorcist.
Smith’s apparatus was created using a heat-forming plastic molded into flat tubes, which connected through a pipe leading into Dietz’s mouth. The tubing was then hidden under a partial latex mask appliance.19 July, 2014 • 247 notes
The Exorcist sparked an outcry of controversy from religious groups during its original theatrical run in 1973/4. While many lauded its strong message of faith; others interpreted the film’s unrelenting portrayal of evil as exploitative and pornographic. Christian evangelist Billy Graham even went as far as to publicly denounce the film, insisting that there was a "power of evil in the fabric of the film itself".
Here is one example of a flyer handed out by Christian groups at a screening in the UK, warning impressionable moviegoers of the “adverse effects” the film may cause them to experience.15 July, 2014 • 66 notes
"Really brilliant" - William Friedkin
THE EXORCIST is an Oscar-winning psychological horror and drama directed by William Friedkin, written and produced by William Peter Blatty, adapted from his best-selling novel, and inspired by true events.
The film follows actress Chris MacNeil and her 12-year-old daughter Regan, who begins to exhibit an explicit new personality as strange events befall the local area of Georgetown. Chris becomes torn between science and superstition in a desperate bid to save her daughter, and ultimately turns to her last hope: Father Damien Karras, a troubled priest who is struggling with his own faith after the recent passing of his mother.
Released in the US on December 26, 1973, The Exorcist electrified a generation of moviegoers who lined up for hours on end to see the film, only to run back out again due to its shocking and controversial scenes. The film struck a nerve with the unsuspecting public, and divided critics, going where no film had dared to go before.
After 40 celebrated years and countless sequels, prequels, parodies, and rip-offs, it remains just as chilling and effective as it was when it first premiered, continuously topping the annual ‘Scariest Movies of All Time’ lists and - when adjusted for inflation - is still one of the highest grossing horror films of all time.
BEHIND THE EXORCIST takes you beyond the confines of Regan’s bedroom and reveals the mechanics behind one of the most influential films of all time; from the blood, sweat and tears that went into achieving the ground-breaking special effects, to the mass hysteria and impact the film had, and continues to have, on audiences and popular culture.
The Ninth Configuration