TOKYO – Shu Uemura, the Japanese makeup artist who won acclaim in Hollywood and built an international cosmetics brand under his name, has died. He was 79.
Uemura, who gained acclaim working with actress Shirley MacLaine on the 1962 Hollywood film "My Geisha," died of pneumonia in Tokyo on Dec. 29, according to a statement released Tuesday by his company, also called Shu Uemura. Its products were mentioned in the more recent film "The Devil Wears Prada."
He is survived by his wife and a son.
Uemura's family and friends attended a funeral Friday, according to company spokeswoman Ami Nakano.
Uemura was working as a beautician in Hollywood when he was called to work on MacLaine's makeup for "My Geisha" after the staff makeup artist fell ill.
His transformation of MacLaine into a Japanese beauty catapulted the young Uemura to renown within the U.S. show business community. He soon became a favorite among top actresses as well as the likes of singer Frank Sinatra and actor Edward G. Robinson, according to his company's Web site.
In 1960, Uemura developed his first cosmetics product, a cleansing oil that remains popular today. He later opened a school to train makeup artists in Tokyo.
In 1983, amid Japan's economic boom and just as Tokyo was establishing itself as a fashion trendsetter, Uemura launched a cosmetics boutique in the capital. It drew crowds for its gallery-like interior.
Uemura gradually expanded his brand to include handmade makeup brushes, perfumes, and voluptuous fake eyelashes. The company's eyelash curlers were mentioned in the 2006 movie "The Devil Wears Prada" starring Meryl Streep.
The company, which has stores in New York, Paris, London and Hong Kong, was acquired by French cosmetics maker L'Oreal SA in 2004.