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The discovery of celebrity makeup artist Paul Starr’s body Tuesday in his Los Angeles home shocked and saddened his many collaborators and celebrity clients.
As of press time Thursday, the cause of death for Starr, 48, had not been released. An autopsy is pending. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Aug.23 at 3 p.m. at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles.
“Paul Starr was my best friend,” said Rosanna Arquette, who found his body Tuesday morning. “He was a beautiful spirit. Passionate, brilliant, so creative and loving, the heart of a spiritual being. He loved music — we shared that together. Radiohead was our favorite. We knew each other’s secrets. He kept a lot of secrets for all his girlfriends. He would call me at 7 a.m. most mornings. He was smart, was always reading great books. We would spend holidays together when we could in Big Sur. He was an amazing artist, a hippie at heart and could play guitar and really could sing and loved making women beautiful. He loved his girls — he was so proud of them all. There will never be anyone to replace Paul Starr, in the world or in my heart. When we found him, he had a smile on his face — he looked like a beautiful sculpture, holy light and happy he is free. I will miss him every day.”
“Paul was so beautiful,” said Anjelica Huston. “When he would do my makeup, I always wondered why he wasn’t the one being photographed. He had the best taste in the world — he turned me onto the great singer Cesária Evora and to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ CD, ‘Raising Sand.’ He was versatile, sweet, funny, a wonderful man and a truly great friend.”
“Paul was, literally, one of the shining stars in beauty, a talented makeup artist who loved the artifice and hassle of achieving looks that at times only otherwise existed in a fertile imagination,” said Rose Apodaca, WWD’s former Los Angeles bureau chief and presently a journalist and the co-owner of A+R, a design retail lab in Los Angeles. “We’d met through the biz, but finally began spending some quiet time together last year, when I asked him to contribute not just a sidebar, but all of the makeup advice in the beauty chapter for Rachel Zoe’s style guide [“Style A to Zoe,” by Rachel Zoe and Rose Apodaca, Grand Central Publishing, 2007]. He was articulate and heartfelt about how every woman and man should be able to realize their best self. He was absolutely glamorous the way a rock star is, but completely down-to-earth. We talked about doing something more, another book.”
“It’s a sad day for many, many people whose lives he’s touched,” said actress Michelle Monaghan, one of Starr’s many high-profile clients. His extensive celebrity client list also included Jennifer Garner, Joni Mitchell, Hilary Swank and many others.
“Paul was such a good friend to both Dean and I,” said Davis Factor, chief creative officer of Smashbox Cosmetics & Studios, Photogenics, and a celebrity photographer. “He was instrumental in the early development of Smashbox Cosmetics, and he was the very first name on our roster when we opened Photogenics [an agency representing hair and makeup artists, stylists and photographers]. He was a great makeup artist and a great teacher.”
“His legacy is really about recognizing the real person who is in the chair,” said Ben Bennett, founder of Web site We Love Beauty, to which Starr was a regular contributor. “If you talk to some of his clients, they will tell you the same thing. He always loved having very real conversations with them that weren’t about the movie they were working on or about their endorsements. It was about their family and their backgrounds. He was able to really enhance the woman and the personality he had in his chair and make them the best they could be, and he was always really proud of that.”
Bennett added that Starr wasn’t afraid to take risks in his career. “He wasn’t like a lot of other makeup artists that have very defined style. If you look at his collection of clients, he has the very beautiful clients and then he also had a collection of the young, upcoming stars who were always excited to take risks. He worked a lot with Lindsay Lohan, for example, and he liked working for her because she loved to really go for it. At the same time, he worked with Jennifer Garner, and he was always about making her as beautiful as possible….He could really do it all. He wasn’t focused solely on film or solely on editorial or solely on shows, he really did everything.”
He was also very serious about his artistry, said Bennett. “We had a long talk one day about his generation of makeup artists versus the younger generation. What’s happening with everybody in media, including celebrities, is that the younger crowd is developing quickly and they are more media-savvy and becoming friends with celebrities. He said, ‘In my generation, it was really about the artistry. You learn from the masters and you study the history of makeup artistry and pay your dues.’
“I think that is the thing that really makes him such a legend and has given him staying power. He really did pay his dues.”
In addition to his extensive celebrity, editorial and runway work, Starr was also the author of “Paul Starr on Beauty: Conversations With Thirty Celebrated Women,” (DK Melcher Media, 2005) and was the founding beauty editor of Flaunt Magazine, serving in that role from 1998 to 2001. While there, Starr enlarged his scope to include photo production, art direction, interviewing and coordinating monthly pages, which ranged from male grooming editorial to conversations with personalities as diverse as makeup artist Shu Uemura, and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” creator John Cameron Mitchell. Starr also established the Estée Lauder brand’s first national makeup artist team in 2003. Starr counted legendary makeup artist Way Bandy as one of his inspirations: “He was the first superstar makeup artist, the first one to have his name above the title, so to speak,” Starr wrote on his Web site. “He was also the first makeup artist who made me think, God, I’d love to do this, this actually seems like a real job….Max Factor planted the seed in my subconscious, but Way Bandy was my biggest mentor.”