Stan Winston
Stanley Winston

(1946-04-07)April 7, 1946
DiedJune 15, 2008(2008-06-15) (aged 62)
Resting placeHillside Memorial Park Cemetery
OccupationSpecial make-up effects creator
Years active1972–2008
Karen Winston
(m. 1969)
Children2, including Matt Winston

Stanley Winston[1] (April 7, 1946 – June 15, 2008) was an American television and film special make-up effects creator, best known for his work in the Terminator series, the first three Jurassic Park films, Aliens, The Thing, 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 directors James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Tim Burton, 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 Richmond, Virginia[5] to a Jewish family,[6] 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 in 1973, he won an Emmy Award for his effects work on the 1972 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. He also worked on supervised vision work on The Entity. 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.[7]

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.[8]

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 Academy Awards for Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects.

In 1992, he was nominated for another Tim Burton film, the superhero sequel Batman Returns, where he designed the makeup prosthetics for Danny DeVito's Penguin. Additionally, his studio was commissioned to create robotic penguin puppets that were used throughout the film.

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 T2-3D: Battle Across Time, James Cameron's 3-D continuation of the Terminator series for the Universal Studios theme parks. One of Winston's most ambitious animatronics projects was Steven Spielberg's A.I. 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.[9]

In 2002 Winston helped to launch a new comic line, Stan Winston's Realm Of The Claw / Mutant Earth which was a flip book and ran for 4 issues. Stan Winston's Trakk Monster Hunter came out in 2003 and ran for 2 issues. These were published by Image Comics.

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.[10]

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

By April 2003, Winston was working on his next project, Jurassic Park IV.[11] By April 2005, Winston said the film was on hold.[12] The film would eventually be released in 2015 titled Jurassic World.

At the time of his death, Winston was working on the fourth Terminator film, Terminator Salvation,[13] as well as frequent collaborator James Cameron's film Avatar. Winston designed the original monsters that appeared in the Midway game The Suffering[14] and its sequel, The Suffering: Ties That Bind.


Johannes Grenzfurthner and Matt Winston talk about Stan Winston and special effects in the 2016 documentary Traceroute

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 is dedicated to both Winston and Joseph R. Kubicek Sr, with the dedication appearing at both the beginning and end of the film. 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.[15]

Stan Winston School

In 2009, the year after his passing, 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.”[16] The school, which is 100% online, currently offers hundreds of in-depth, on-demand educational video courses by Hollywood's leading special effects artists and creators. Topics covered include design, sculpture, mold making, lab work, animatronics, makeup effects, puppet making, painting, and fabrication.


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

Academy Awards

Emmy Awards



  1. ^ "Stan Winston Biography (1946?-)". Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Cohen, David S. (2008). "Effects master Stan Winston dies. Work included Jurassic Park, Terminator". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved June 16, 2008. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b Crabtree, Sheigh (June 16, 2008). "Stan Winston, dead at 62; Oscar-winning visual effects artist suffered from multiple myeloma". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Stan Winston Studio (2008). "Press Release". Los Angeles Times. June 16, 2008. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
  5. ^ "SFScopeSpecial effects artist Stan Winston dies | SFScope". June 16, 2008.
  6. ^ Turek, Ryan (June 20, 2008). "Memories of a Monster Maker". Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  7. ^ "Center For Roboto Research And Preservation" Archived January 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
  8. ^ "Bring on the Gore: Top Ten Practical Effects in Horror!". BloodyDisgusting. April 28, 2016.
  9. ^ Biodrowski, Steve (June 2001). "Stan Winston's Creature Features". Cinefantastique. Retrieved June 18, 2008.
  10. ^ "Two-part podcast of the presentation given by Stan Winston as part of The Lemelson Center's "Inventing Ourselves" symposium". Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  11. ^ "Stan Winston Talks Jurassic Park IV!". April 14, 2003. Archived from the original on April 22, 2003.
  12. ^ Davidson, Paul (April 11, 2005). "Status of Jurassic Park IV". IGN. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  13. ^ McG (May 22, 2008). "Terminator Salvation Blog". Official blog. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved June 4, 2008.
  14. ^ IGN FilmForce (September 8, 2005). "Games to Film: The Suffering; Midway action-horror title to Hollywood". IGN Entertainment. Archived from the original on December 27, 2005. Retrieved June 18, 2008.
  15. ^ Boucher, Geoff (October 6, 2008). "Stan Winston and the tricky business of Legacy". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013.
  16. ^ "Our History". Stan Winston School of Character Arts. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  17. ^ a b Smith, Gary A. (2017). Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between. McFarland & Company. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-7864-9779-9.