Nick Maley recalls, “When, in 1968, Stuart Freeborn headed the team that built the apes for  2001 - A SPACE ODYSSEY he created a new form of creature effect. A semi mechanical creature suit which, in that case, was operated by the actor inside. Over a decade later this became known as “animatronics”. But for many years there was a lot of resistance within the industry to make-up artists sculpting creatures, making moulds, building mechanics and effectively creating costumes... all of which were the domain of other union departments.

Arthur C. Clark recalls, (here) "Kubrick hired only the best people, and Stuart Freeborn's costumes, as donned by Daniel Richter's mime actors, were a major factor in creating the most convincing scenes ever filmed of the distant past.

To my fury, at the 1969 Academy Awards a special Oscar was presented for makeup to Planet of the Apes! I wondered, as loudly as possible, whether the judges had passed over 2001 because they thought we used real apes."

These last words are undoubtedly responsible for the widely held belief that the Academy thought Kubrick had used real apes. But the real reason Chambers got the Oscar over Stuart was that the Academy was not sure that men in suits and the soft mechanics we now refer to as animatronics should be classified as make-up... even when done within the make-up department. It was a debate that lasted until animatronics finally found acceptance with Rick Baker's ground breaking transformation in American Werewolf in London in 1981.

When, in 1978, we built Yoda we were now making puppets too... supposedly the domain of the Props Department. At that time, Prop-men were supposed to operate puppets too. So operating the puppet Yoda  that we built was not an option. As a result Jim Henson was invited to collaborate with the performance. Because of the fame of the Muppets we got past the political issues. But the puppeteers and trainees that we worked with didn’t have the right union tickets and so the credits they received were often obscure.”

Back to the homepage


Are animatronics really “make-up”?

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.
Ralph’s official website
The World of Froud
Wendy & Brian’s website 
the Yoda Puppeteer’s website
Nick’s movie memoirs, Star Wars, Superman, Highlander and more
Questions & Answers   
Nick replies to fan’s questions
YodaGuyMovieExhibit movie museum & art gallery. biography info. easy to remember internet hub
Made on a Mac

*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.

all ART images are © copyright Nick Maley ~ text © copyright Yoda Guy Movie Museum Foundation. All Rights Reserved. | HOME | CONTACT

This info is written from memory. It’s been 30 years and there are undoubtedly some corrections needed and more contributors that I’m not aware of, especially from TPM. If you have further fist hand knowledge, PLEASE email it to us with details of your connection to our favorite little green guy.