Nick Maley recalls, “Of all the personalities involved in creating creatures for STAR WARS, the most underrated and overlooked is Graham Freeborn.  Graham was Stuart’s primary assistant and made a HUGE contribution to the aliens created for principle photography.

He was also a cherished friend.

Graham was Stuart’s youngest son. He grew up in the midst of the movie business as Stu moved from project to project.

His first movie was as part of the team which built the apes for 2001 A SPACE ODESSY and his quick brain and no nonsense attitude quickly established his role as a foil to Stu’s meticulous attention to detail.

Graham befriended me when I joined Stu’s team on YOUNG WINSTON in 1971. We spent 8 weeks on location in Morocco and shared quite a few adventures in the process. That movie involved a LOT of period hair work, something Graham was very good and very quick at.  Every morning 6 of us had 4 hours to turn 400 Moroccans into whirling Dervishes, Gurkhas and English cavalry officers. Then we stood around in the sun for 8 hours to clean them up again. Graham loved the sun. Even on the edge of the Sahara desert, where the middle of the day was 110 degrees in the shade, I remember him donning a pair of swimming trunks and lying on the roof of our car to sunbathe.  Something he would later regret.

As is often the case, as a senior crew member of a renowned team, he started to be offered a lot of special make-up TV ads and I became a frequent helper which allowed me polish up my skills and he encouraged me at a time when I was struggling to get frequent work.

The first movie where Graham was credited as department chief was, I believe, LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF in 1975. I assisted him with that too. It was Graham who, a year later, persuaded Stu to include me in the STAR WARS creature crew.

Graham was a great all-rounder, a very fast modeler, excellent mold maker, Stu’s primary foam latex technician (at that time), excellent art worker and fabricator. On Star Wars Episode IV he modeled at least half of the characters for principle photography of the Mos Eisley cantina... most of them in little more than a day.

I learned a lot from him as I took over running the foam lab, completed many of the creatures he modeled, worked with Stuart and Graham on Gene Roddenburry’s SPECTRE and then moved on to fabricate 260 dummies and effects for  SUPERMAN I & II.

On THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, whilst Stu was modeling Yoda’s head, Graham and I  built the Wampa body together. When we came to assembling Yoda, Graham’s responsibilities as Chief Make-up Artist on ESB limited the time he had available to be involved in Yoda’s construction.  He and his mother Kay were on “stand by” on set, looking after all the stars, when it became necessary to create the second and third versions of Yoda which were needed to achieve specific actions in specific shots that the original wasn’t designed to do.  In Graham’s absence, I was the most senior tech/artist left in the creature workshop which is why I became so deeply involved in those jobs. However, at the end of each shooting day Graham would pop in and work with me adjusting Yoda’s artwork and laying his white wispy hair.

After ESB Graham and I discussed plans of forming a company together and did pre-production for THONGOR IN THE VALLEY OF DEMONS, a Ray Harryhausen project, which unfortunately folded before filming.

Graham headed the Make-up department on DRAGONSLAYER and RETURN OF THE JEDI whilst I went on to design the creatures for KRULL.

Unfortunately Graham’s career was cut short when those days in the sun and using UV tanning equipment resulted in skin cancer. As his illness stopped him doing his own movies, he continued as my assistant on THE KEEP, a Kinder Surprise ad that still raises eyebrows on YouTube,   LIFEFORCE and HIGHLANDER.

Graham lost his fight with cancer in 1986. He was a very special friend. I miss his cheeky smile and intimate camaraderie.”

View Graham’s movie credits here.


The info on this page is accurate to the best of my recollection. If you have FIRST HAND experience of these events and have any additions or corrections please email them with details of your connection to Yoda.

Graham Freeborn

This website is sponsored by the Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit & movie insider recollections and museum.  At the time of publishing, (2010), Google and Bing searches reveal that there is no other page detailing information about Yoda designers, Yoda technicians and Yoda puppeteers. So if the info appears on any future sites it was clearly copied from here. DO NOT COPY ANY PART OF THIS WEBSITE WITHOUT PERMISSION, PLUS A LINK TO THIS SITE & A TEXT CREDIT.
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Alien Makers. Dennis Lowe’s exceptional information about the special effects on Ridley Scott’s ALIEN.

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*NOTE: THIS SITE IS IN NOT CONNECTED TO LUCASFILM OR GEORGE LUCAS who own all rights to Yoda and the creatures from Star Wars. The use of the string "yoda" in our domain name and the presentation of images from the saga are courtesy of their generosity in allowing us to do so. Our use of the name YodaGuy is NOT intended to imply that Nick was the only "guy" who worked to produce Yoda. Several people were involved in making four versions of Yoda for ESB and more again for versions in ROTJ, PTM and AOTC. (Read making Yoda for more info). "YodaGuy" is intended to imply ONLY that Nick Maley is a guy who was involved. Yoda and all creatures for the classic Star Wars trilogy were masterminded by Stuart Freeborn who Nick worked with periodically over a 7 year period. The initial drawing: Ralph McQuarrie. Other people involved include Wendy Midner, Graham Freeborn, Ron Hone, Bob Keen and Nick Dudman.

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