"Rest in Peace knowing you brought a lot of joy and so much laughter," Winfrey wrote in an Instagram tribute
On Thursday, Winfrey honored Wells with a heartfelt Instagram photo of the two of them on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She also penned a lengthy caption.
“Dear Reggie,” she began. “Rest in Peace knowing you brought a lot of joy and so much laughter. You made every face you touched feel more beautiful. I imagine you’re holding court with St. Peter, Gabriel, and all the real Marys— bringing a lot of humor to Heaven.”
Wells died in his hometown Baltimore after a "long illness," according to the Baltimore Banner.
On Winfrey’s website, an article dedicated to Wells included a note from the Oprah Daily creative director, Adam Glassman, who also knew the late makeup artist well.
“Reggie was a tremendous makeup artist. I was in awe when I first met him—his work preceded him and I knew I was in the presence of a creative legend,” Glassman said. “He really could ‘beat a face,’ as he would say, but he was also such a comedian. On a photo shoot, or backstage at The Oprah Winfrey Show, he’d keep spirits up and get the energy going—and, boy, did he have great stories from his years working with the greats.”
According to the site, Wells contributed to some of the most beloved The Oprah Magazine covers, such as the first-ever May-June 2000 issue and the May 2010 10th-anniversary cover.
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Wells attended Baltimore City College and Maryland Institute College of Art and became a city art teacher, according to the Banner. In the 1970s, he moved to New York City, where he soon became a recognizable name in the makeup industry — he worked with Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and Essence, where he did Winfrey’s makeup for her cover, per The Hollywood Reporter.
Working primarily with Black women, Wells was known to often create his own foundation and powder shades to match the skin tones of his clients.
In 1990, Winfrey hired him as her full-time makeup artist, and they became close friends from there.
“What I learned from Oprah is why I am doing this today,” he said in a 2017 interview for The Baltimore Sun. “I’m doing this for the forgotten people of families. I’m taking unknown mothers and grandmothers and giving them the type of makeovers that Oprah would give.”
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