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Shu Uemura Passes Away

Posted: January 9, 2008
Shu Uemura—the Japanese makeup artist who worked with Hollywood stars and launched his own line of cosmetics in the 1960s—died of pneumonia in Tokyo on December 29. He was 79. 

Uemura began as a makeup assistant for the 1957 Universal film Joe Butterfly, shot in Japan. Less than five years later, he made his mark on the industry by transforming actress Shirley MacLaine in My Geisha. This led to more Hollywood makeup work with stars like Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra. 

Uemura later introduced his own cleansing oil, and in 1964, he opened the Shu Uemura makeup school in Tokyo. Building a cosmetic empire followed, as he founded his own line of cosmetics, Mode Makeup. In 1983, he expanded to makeup brushes, perfumes, fake eyelashes and more with the launch of the shu uemura cosmetics company. The L'Oréal Group acquired shu uemura in 2004.

Uemura is survived by his wife and son.