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Ross Burton, Makeup Artist, Dies at 46

An Emmy-nominated makeup artist for “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Burton counted numerous celebrities among his personal clients.

Services will be held Monday in Guthrie Okla., for celebrity makeup artist Ross Burton, who died Dec. 2 at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City. He was 46. The cause of death was due to complications from pneumonia, according to his father.

Prior to his death, Burton worked as an Emmy-nominated makeup artist for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and counted among his personal clients celebrities such as Natalie Cole, Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria and Lauryn Hill. “Ross Burton saw beauty where others only see laugh lines,” Winfrey told WWD on Wednesday. “He knew how to make a woman look wonderful but, more than that, he had a gift for making a woman feel wonderful. He was a creative, curious, passionate man. And boy did he love products. It would thrill him to find the perfect lip color. I’ve seen him actually giddy over a new set of brushes. He always entered the room with a smile, bringing lots of positive energy. And who can forget that distinct baritone voice? I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that he’s no longer here. His attention to detail was signature Ross Burton, and I always say, love is in the details. He brought it!”

Winfrey’s hairstylist Andre Walker, who worked closely with Burton, said “Ross became a friend and great teammate during the time I worked with him. He had a big heart, [was] highly talented and was always vibrantly full of life. We had great conversations as well as shared a great appreciation for beauty. I’m still shaken by his passing. He will be deeply missed.”

Burton began his career as a beauty advisor for Lancôme in Macy’s Herald Square nearly 20 years ago, rising to the ranks of celebrity makeup stylist and national artistic director in 2000. He remained with the brand until 2008. “Ross’ work with Lancôme went beyond the red carpet and infiltrated the Lancôme family,” Serge Jureidini, president of Lancôme in the U.S., told staff members in an internal memo. “Beloved and respected by so many, he understood how to build the bridge between the field and the executives, the beauty advisers and our clients, the media and our consumers; he systematically brought people together. A pioneer in his field, Ross was instrumental in defining the role of makeup artists in our organization today.”

During his career Burton has worked backstage at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the Sundance Film Festival and the ESPN ESPY Awards. Additionally, over the last decade, Burton orchestrated Nordstrom’s Beauty Trend shows, cohosting some seasons. “Words can not express the sadness and loss that our team is feeling at this time,” said Debbi Hartley-Triesch, national merchandise manager for Nordstrom Beauty who was also a close friend. “Ross was part of the team here at Nordstrom Beauty. He’s touched the lives of so many people over the years — both customers and employees — and he will be missed by all. His appearances at our Trend Shows were legendary and he never failed to delight customers seasons after season. He saw the best in everyone he came into contact with. Ross’ passion for the beauty business, his positive energy and dynamic personality will be missed by everyone on the Nordstrom Beauty team.”

Celebrity manicurist and friend Deborah Lippmann added, “He was an incredible talent, driven by his passion and love for making women look and feel more beautiful. We called him the Barry White of beauty. He was beautiful inside and out, and had the most gorgeous speaking voice — he was truly the light of our lives. He was always there with words of encouragement, and a big hug and smile — he instantly brightened my day regardless of how tired or exhausted we were. I can’t find the words to express my deep sorrow for the loss of not only a friend, but a genuinely beautiful person. My world is truly better for having been touched by Ross.”

Burton, who is originally from Guthrie, is survived by his parents, Roscoe and Beverly, and is predeceased by a younger brother, Reginald D. Burton. Condolences can be sent to Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Burton, P.O. Box 27127, Detroit, Mich., 48227, and flowers can be sent to the Smith-Gallo Funeral Home at 220 North First Street, Guthrie, Okla. The funeral will be held at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, located at 1224 East Springer Street in Guthrie, Okla., at 10 a.m. The burial will follow services.