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Reggie Wells, Oprah's longtime personal makeup artist, dies in his native Baltimore

BALTIMORE (AP) — Reggie Wells, who spent more than 30 years as Oprah Winfrey's personal makeup artist and worked with former first lady Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Halle Berry and numerous other celebrities, has died. He was 76.

The Emmy winner and Baltimore County native died there Monday of natural causes, his niece Kristina Conner told The Associated Press on Thursday.

“He was always so full of life,” Conner said. “Very energetic. He loved to make you laugh. And he always saw the best in people. He saw so much potential in so many people.”

Wells had returned to Baltimore later in life to be closer to his aging father, The Baltimore Banner reported. In addition to his glamorous life as a celebrity makeup artist, Wells spent time making over women in a retirement community in the Park Heights neighborhood and had them professionally photographed.

Wells received five Daytime Emmy nominations for his work on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” winning a statuette in 1995. He frequently traveled the globe with Winfrey, including trips to South Africa, where she opened a school.

“Reggie Wells was an artist who used his palette of talent to create beauty no matter the canvas," Winfrey said in a statement emailed to the AP. "He called me and everyone he considered a friend ‘Mary.’ He always made me feel beautiful. Ooh my, how we’d laugh and laugh during the process. He was an astute observer of human behavior and could see humor in the most unlikely experiences.”

Wells was one of seven children born to John Henry Wells, a bus driver, and Ada Wells, a nurse. He graduated from Baltimore City College and the Maryland Institute College of Art, according to the Banner. He moved to New York City in the mid-1970s to pursue work as a makeup artist.

He worked with a range of magazines, including Glamour and Harper's Bazaar. At Essence, he did makeup for models and celebrities who graced the magazine's covers. That's how he connected with Winfrey and other celebrities.

He also worked with Whitney Houston, Diahann Carroll, Aretha Franklin and Joan Rivers. He went to work for Winfrey full time in Chicago in 1990.

Wells also created his own line of makeup for Black women in the early days when few products for their skin tones were available. In 2000, he published a book, “Face Painting: African American Beauty Techniques from an Emmy-Winning Makeup Artist.”