Stan Winston

Stan Winston

Winston (right) with Michael Jackson at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
Born Stanley Winston
(1946-04-07)April 7, 1946
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Died June 15, 2008(2008-06-15) (aged 62)
Malibu, California, U.S.
Cause of death Multiple myeloma
Occupation Special make-up effects creator
Years active 1972–2008
Spouse(s) Karen Winston (1969-2008; his death; 2 children)

Stanley "Stan" Winston[1] (April 7, 1946 – June 15, 2008) was an American television and film special make-up effects creator. He was best known for his work in the Terminator series, the first three Jurassic Park films, Aliens, the first two Predator films, Inspector Gadget, Iron Man and Edward Scissorhands.[2][3][4] He won four Academy Awards for his work.

Winston, a frequent collaborator with director James Cameron, owned several effects studios, including Stan Winston Digital. The established areas of expertise for Winston were in makeup, puppets and practical effects, but he had recently expanded his studio to encompass digital effects as well.

Early life

Winston was born on April 7, 1946, in Arlington, Virginia to a Jewish family,[5] where he graduated from Washington-Lee High School in 1964. He studied painting and sculpture at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from which he graduated in 1968.[4]


In 1969, after attending California State University, Long Beach, Winston moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor. Struggling to find an acting job, he began a makeup apprenticeship at Walt Disney Studios.[4]


In 1972, Winston established his own company, Stan Winston Studio, and won an Emmy Award for his effects work on the telefilm Gargoyles. Over the next seven years, Winston continued to receive Emmy Award nominations for work on projects and won another for 1974's The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Winston also created the Wookiee costumes for the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special. In 1978 Winston was the Special Make-up Designer for The Wiz.


In 1982, Winston received his first Oscar nomination for Heartbeeps, by which time he had set up his own studio. However, it was his ground-breaking work with Rob Bottin on his update of the science fiction horror classic The Thing that year that brought him to prominence in Hollywood. Between then, he contributed some visual effects to Friday the 13th Part III, in which he made a slightly different head sculpt of Jason in an unused ending.

In 1983, Winston designed the Mr. Roboto facemask for the American rock group Styx.[6]

In 1983 he also worked on the short-lived television series Manimal, for which he created the panther and hawk transformation effects.

Winston reached a new level of fame in 1984 when James Cameron's The Terminator premiered. The movie was a surprise hit, and Winston's work in bringing the titular metallic killing machine to life led to many new projects and additional collaborations with Cameron. In fact, Winston won his first Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1986 on James Cameron's next movie, Aliens.[7]

Over the next few years, Winston and his company received more accolades for its work on many more Hollywood films, including Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, John McTiernan's Predator, Alien Nation, The Monster Squad, and Predator 2.

In 1988, Winston made his directorial debut with the horror movie Pumpkinhead, and won Best First Time Director at the Paris Film Festival. His next directing project was the child-friendly A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990), starring Anthony Michael Hall.


James Cameron drafted Winston and his team once again in 1990, this time for Terminator 2: Judgment Day. T2 premiered in the summer of 1991, and Winston's work on this box office hit won him two more Oscars for Best Makeup Effects and Best Visual Effects.

In 1992, he was nominated with yet another Tim Burton film, this time for Burton's superhero sequel, Batman Returns, where his effects on Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and in delivering Burton's general vision for what was an increasingly Gothic Gotham City earned him more recognition for his work ethic and loyalty to what was an intrinsic ability to bring different directors' ideas to life. It was particularly poignant because for Batman Returns, Winston had to follow on from Anton Furst's earlier work, and recreate change according to what Burton wanted to do differently the next time around.

Winston turned his attention from super villains and cyborgs to dinosaurs when Steven Spielberg enlisted his help to bring Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park to the cinema screen. In 1993, the movie became a blockbuster and Winston won another Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

In 1993, Winston, Cameron and ex-ILM General Manager Scott Ross co-founded Digital Domain, one of the foremost digital and visual effects studios in the world. In 1998, after the box office success of Titanic, Cameron and Winston severed their working relationship with the company and resigned from its board of directors.

Winston and his team continued to provide effects work for many more films and expanded their work into animatronics. Some of Winston's notable animatronics work can be found in The Ghost and the Darkness and T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, James Cameron's 3-D continuation of the Terminator series for the Universal Studios theme park. One of Winston's most ambitious animatronics projects was Steven Spielberg's AI: Artificial Intelligence, which earned Winston another Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects.

In 1996, Winston directed and co-produced the longest music video of all time, Ghosts, which was based on an original concept of Michael Jackson and Stephen King. The long-form music video presented a number of never before seen visual effects, and promoted music from Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, which went on to become the biggest selling remix album of all time (13 million).


In 2001, Winston, together with Colleen Camp and Samuel Z. Arkoff's son, Lou Arkoff, produced a series of made-for-cable films for Cinemax and HBO. The five films, referred to as Creature Features, were inspired by the titles of AIP monster movies from the 1950s — i.e., Earth vs. the Spider (1958), How to Make a Monster (1958), Day the World Ended (1955), The She-Creature (1956), and Teenage Caveman (1958) — but had completely different plots.[8]

In 2003, Winston was invited by the Smithsonian Institution to speak about his life and career in a public presentation sponsored by The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. The presentation took place on November 15, 2003, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.[9]

In 2004, he expressed great disappointment when director Paul W. S. Anderson did not come to him for the creature effects for Alien vs. Predator, seeing as how he designed the Predator and the Alien Queen. "They're like my children to me," he stated.

Winston also worked on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

By April 2003, Winston was working on his next project, Jurassic Park IV.[10] By April 2005, Winston said the film was on hold.[11] The film would eventually be released in 2015 titled Jurassic World.

At the time of his death, Winston was working on the sequel Terminator Salvation.[12] Winston designed the original monsters that appeared in the Midway game The Suffering[13] and its sequel, The Suffering: Ties That Bind. He was also helping with his old friend, film director James Cameron and his film Avatar.


Stan Winston died on June 15, 2008, in Malibu, California, after suffering for seven years from multiple myeloma.[2] A spokeswoman reported that he "died peacefully at home surrounded by family."[3] Winston was with his wife and two children, actor Matt Winston and Debbie Winston. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a public speech about his death, and Jon Favreau dedicated his Spike TV Scream Award to him upon receiving the award for Best Sci-Fi Movie for Iron Man. Terminator Salvation starts and ends the credits with a dedication to him, along with Joseph R. Kubicek Sr. After his death, his four supervisors (Shane Mahan, John Rosengrant, Alan Scott, Lindsay Macgowan) founded and built their own studio, Legacy Effects, named to honor his memory.

In addition, the Winston family founded the Stan Winston School of Character Arts to "preserve Stan's legacy by inspiring and fostering creativity in a new generation of character creators."[14]


Winston worked with the following directors on more than one film :

Academy Awards

Emmy Awards



  1. "Stan Winston Biography (1946?-)". 1946-04-07. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
  2. 1 2 Cohen, David S. (2008). "Effects master Stan Winston dies. Work included Jurassic Park, Terminator", Variety webpage retrieved 2008-06-16.
  3. 1 2 Crabtree, Sheigh (2008). "Stan Winston, dead at 62; Oscar-winning visual effects artist suffered from multiple myeloma", Los Angeles Times, Entertainment industry news blog, June 16, 2008; online version retrieved 2008-06-16.
  4. 1 2 3 Stan Winston Studio (2008). "Press Release" posted at Los Angeles Times Entertainment industry news blog, June 16, 2008; online version retrieved 2008-06-16.
  6. "Center For Roboto Research And Preservation", webpage retrieved 2008-06-16.
  7. "Bring on the Gore: Top Ten Practical Effects in Horror!". BloodyDisgusting.
  8. Biodrowski, Steve (June 2001). "Stan Winston's Creature Features". Cinefantastique. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  9. "Two-part podcast of the presentation given by Stan Winston as part of The Lemelson Center's "Inventing Ourselves" symposium". Retrieved 2011-07-20.
  10. "Stan Winston Talks Jurassic Park IV!". April 14, 2003. Archived from the original on 2003-04-22.
  11. Davidson, Paul (April 11, 2005). "Status of Jurassic Park IV". Retrieved 2015-05-31.
  12. McG (2008-05-22). "Terminator Salvation Blog". Official blog. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  13. IGN FilmForce (2005-09-08). "Games to Film: The Suffering; Midway action-horror title to Hollywood". IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  14. "Our history". Stan Winston School of Character Arts. Retrieved 22 February 2016.

External links

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