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Shu Uemura Obituary

TOKYO (AP) - Shu Uemura, the legendary Japanese makeup artist who built an international cosmetics brand under his name, has died, his company announced Tuesday. He was 79.

Uemura, who made his name working with actress Shirley MacLaine on the 1962 Hollywood film "My Geisha," died from pneumonia in Tokyo on Dec. 29, according to a statement released by the company, also called Shu Uemura. His 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 seductress catapulted the young Uemura to Hollywood fame, making him a favorite among top actresses as well as the likes of singer Frank Sinatra and actor Edward G. Robinson, according to the 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 that drew crowds for its gallery-like interior.

Uemura gradually expanded his brand to include elegant handmade makeup brushes, perfumes, and voluptuous fake eyelashes and eyelash curlers mentioned in the recent Hollywood film, "The Devil Wears Prada."

The company, which has stores in New York, Paris, London and Hong Kong, was acquired by French cosmetics maker L'Oreal SA in 2004.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press

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