Sadly, Freeborn passed away this week on February 6, 2013. Freeborn’s own likeness is said to have been part of the inspiration for Yoda’s appearance and no doubt contributed to the development of the Jedi Master’s personality. Despite being a puppet, the original Yoda was tangible in a believable way that the later CGI versions were not. Proof that Frank Oz’s mannerisms along with his voice were part of what brought the character alive and endeared him to the audience.
Freeborn worked on one of my favorite films of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey, where his work produced the primitive human ancestors who first discover tools. Honestly, I almost always skip this sequence of the film when I watch it. But don’t get me wrong. Freeborn’s work is amazing, particularly in the context of the late 1960s and 1970s. He also worked on Dr. Strangelove and the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, but he will always be remembered best for his wonderful aliens that helped make the Star Wars universe so popular with fans.
Freeborn’s talent and influence can be seen throughout the original trilogy, leading the makeup and creature effects that produced Chewbacca, Greedo and the cantina aliens, the tauntauns, wampa, ewoks and Jabba the Hutt. The Forciness was strong with Freeborn who was 98 years old. His work remains an enduring part of modern pop culture. He deserves recognition and remembrance, so take a moment to read the article on Star Wars.com and check out this Youtube video.