Stuart Freeborn was born in London on Sept. 5, 1914. Even as a teenager, he yearned to work in the movie business and practiced making himself up to look like different characters. He studied chemistry to learn how to use different kinds of plastic without harming human skin.
Shrugging off his father’s pleas that he follow him into the insurance business, Mr. Freeborn repeatedly applied to studios, sometimes even sneaking into them hoping to demonstrate his skills. At 25, he devised a bolder scheme: he called studio executives and the newspapers to tell the lie that the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie was driving around Mr. Freeborn’s London suburb. The emperor was in fact Mr. Freeborn wearing a fake beard and nose. He was detained by the police but not hired by the studios.
Undaunted, he sent photos of his work to the director Alexander Korda, a leader in the British film industry. Mr. Korda hired him, and he was soon doing makeup for costume dramas and period pieces.
(Obit source: The New York Times)