Dick Smith, who did the masterful make-up jobs on The Godfather and The Exorcist, recently won an Academy Award, along with Oprah Winfrey and James Earl Jones.
Smith’s protégé Rick Baker was there to honor one of the greatest mentors a make-up artist could ever have, and indeed, Smith helped many like Baker as they were coming up in the ranks.
Baker, Tom Savini, and many other future make-up artists would write to Smith for help, and he would write back with typewritten instructions how to make foam latex, masks, anything you wanted to know.
He even wrote to a young J.J. Abrams, who was on hand to celebrate Smith as well.
As reported on Deadline, Abrams recalled at the ceremony that he wrote Smith a fan letter, and one day "a box arrived from Dick Smith with a note to me that said ‘Dear J.J. Here’s an old but clean tongue from The Exorcist.’ My mother was very concerned about who this man named Dick was and why he was sending me tongues."
Meanwhile, Linda Blair recalled, "I was supposed to be the next Disney girl but I got this movie and Dick Smith turned me into the ugliest, sickest, scariest monster ever." Baker called Smith, "my idol, mentor, and friend for over 40 years, the greatest makeup artist of all time."
Smith was visibly moved by the honor, and said, "When I watch the wonderful films they just showed, I thought, ‘What a wonderful career this fellow has had.’ I have loved being a makeup artist. To have had so much kindness is just too much."
Smith’s make-up innovations will always speak for themselves. But knowing that indeed he’s a very kind and good-hearted man who has helped many in the business, the Oscar honor truly couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.