Richard A. “Rick” Baker (born December 8, 1950) is an American special make-up effects artist known for his realistic creature effects. Baker was born in Binghamton, New York, the son of Doris and Ralph B. Baker, a professional artist.
As a teen, Baker began creating artificial body parts in his own kitchen. He also appeared briefly in the “lost” classic fan production “The Night Turkey” a one hour B&W video parody of “The Night Stalker” (winner of the Best Short Film award at an early San Diego Comic-Con) directed by William Malone (who went on to direct feature films like the science fiction thriller Creature) and included in its cast Bill Mills and Robert Short (a fellow special makeup artist who also went on to win an Academy Award for his work in Beetlejuice).
Baker’s first professional job was as an assistant to the legendary Dick Smith on the film ‘The Exorcist’. He received the inaugural Academy Award for Best Makeup for his peerless work on ‘An American Werewolf in London’. He also created the “werecat” creature Michael Jackson transforms into in the music video ‘Thriller’. Subsequently, Baker has been nominated for the Best Makeup Oscar ten more times, winning on seven occasions, both records in his field. Baker claims that his work on ‘Harry and the Hendersons’ is one of his proudest achievements.
On 3 October 2009 he received the Jack Pierce – Lifetime Achievement Award title of the Chiller-Eyegore Awards. Known for his love of lyBaker most recently created the special makeup effects for the 2010 film ‘The Wolfman’ for which he also won an Academy Award in 2011.
Baker played the title role in the 1976 remake of ‘King Kong’. He also had cameos as the pilot and gunner (with director Peter Jackson) who shot down Kong in the 2005 remake of ‘King Kong’ and as a drug dealer with a business card in the John Landis film ‘Into the Night’. He also made a cameo appearance in the aforementioned Michael Jackson music video ‘Thriller’ as one of the zombies. He also makes a cameo in ‘The Wolfman’ as The Wolfman’s first kill. He would eventually win the Oscar for his work with the film’s makeup.
Baker also contributes commentaries to Joe Dante’s web series Trailers From Hell for trailers about horror and science fiction films. He was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Academy of Art University in 2008.