Baker's 40-year career also includes work on the Men in Black franchise and Maleficent

By Alex Heigl
Updated May 28, 2015 08:50 AM
Credit: Valerie Macon/Getty

Before the age of CGI, Rick Baker was the power behind the fangs of some of Hollywood’s most famous monsters.

The special effects designer and makeup artist, 64, is retiring from the business and auctioning off some of the iconic memorabilia from his collection of creatures throughout his career.

You might not recognize his name, but you’ve certainly seen his work. Baker is the mastermind behind the transformation scene in American Werewolf in London, which won him his first of seven Oscars, and the video for “Thriller” when he turned Michael Jackson into that bizarre cat-monster.

More recently, he created effects for the Men in Black franchise, the Hellboy films and the Angelina Jolie-starrer Maleficent.

And though Baker has won accolades for his work as recently as 2011 (an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Makeup in The Wolfman), he’s decided it’s the right time for his exit.

“I am 64 years old, and the business is crazy right now,” Baker told KPCC. “I like to do things right, and they wanted cheap and fast. That is not what I want to do, so I just decided it is basically time to get out.”

That means the fruits of his 40-year-career are up for grabs. The artist is auctioning off the majority of the collection that occupies his 60,000-square-foot facility in Glendale, California through a company called The Prop Store.

Baker’s comments to KPCC reveal his twinge of disappointment at how the industry’s changed.

“Big makeup films don’t seem to exist anymore,” he said, adding that the people that bought his building “are actually making a storage unit out of it.”

“It was weird because it was a big empty building when I bought it, then I made it my own, and it was pretty cool. It is sad that it isn’t going to exist again. Nobody will be as stupid as I was to build this giant castle to make monsters in.”

But Baker is not done with monsters. Check out his Twitter account for more of his recent work.

And if you’ve got deep pockets, make it out to the Hilton Universal City in Los Angeles on Friday for The Prop Store’s auction.