A fascinating lot related to Jedi Master Yoda, created a bit more recently than 900 years ago, features among stellar Star Wars memorabilia coming up at Catherine Southon’s saleroom on June 8.
The collection of make-up-related items from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi is being sold by an acquaintance of Stuart Freeborn, who was in charge of make-up for the first three Star Wars films.
According to Southon, Freeborn is generally seen as the “grandfather of modern make-up design”. Before he died in 2013 at the age of 98, the London-born expert passed on some of his collection to a fellow make-up artist and they are being sold on behalf of the Shepperton Wig Company.
Freeborn worked on the Star Wars trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) – also creating Jabba the Hutt – and he also worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey and some of the Superman movies.
“When it came to designing Yoda, he based him facially to a great degree on himself, which is very obvious in the plaster model, number 4, which is part of the sale,” says Southon, who has worked for 20 years within the antiques world, initially at Sotheby’s New Bond Street for nine years as an auctioneer specialising in Scientific Instruments and Maritime Works of Art, and then as an expert on four BBC antiques programmes for 10 years.
The model is signed by Freeborn and is expected to fetch £200-300.
Eye Wrinkles and Big Ears
An obituary to Freeborn in the New York Times said: “His inspiration for the look of Yoda, a puppet, came when he looked in the mirror and saw the lumps and bumps on his own face. To convey the mental power of this master of the Jedi Order, an ancient monastic peacekeeping organisation in the Star Wars universe, he hit on the notion of using Einstein’s eye wrinkles. Yoda’s big ears popped out of Freeborn’s imagination.
“Still, he said in an interview in 2008, he had remained nervous about his idea. ‘I had never modelled anything so quick,’ he said. ‘It’s going to be a load of rubbish.’ Lucas demanded to see Yoda immediately. When Freeborn removed the cloth covering his model, he recalled, Lucas exclaimed, ‘That’s it! That’s just what I want!’”
Another lot in the Catherine Southon sale includes samples of yak hair for Chewbacca, whom Freeborn was also instrumental in creating. All the envelopes show the logo ‘Revenge of the Jedi’, which was the working title for Return of the Jedi, and together are estimated at £100-200. The sale, at Farleigh Court Golf Course, near Croydon, will include some call sheets from other movies.