Father of modern special effects Ray Harryhausen dies at 92

Legendary Hollywood special effects man Ray Harryhausen passed away in London’s Hammersmith hospital recently. He was ninety two years old.

The animator and business leader was renowned for his innovation of latest moving picture approaches, as well as the parade of iconic and unforgettable display creations.

Harryhausen’s mold work and unique creature models might be seen in such type of films as ‘Clash of the Titans’, ‘Jason & The Argonauts’, ‘The Valley of Gwangi’ and his ‘Sinbad’ trilogy, among an excellent many others.

Tributes from a variety of motion picture industry specialists have poured in over the last 24 hours. 

Oscar-winning ‘Wallace & Gromit’ creator Nick Park called him “my mentor and inspiration since my earliest childhood memories”.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg both glowingly remarked Harryhausen as an inspiration, while James Cameron, who’s movies consist of Harryhausen-esque animal features like ‘Aliens’ and ‘Terminator’ said that science fiction filmmakers have been “standing on the shoulders of a giant” as a result of Ray’s work.

Peter Lord, of Aardman Animations, also renowned that Harryhausen was “a one-guy business and a one-man genre”.

Himself empowered by ‘King Kong’s special effects creator Willis O’Brien, youthful Harryhausen began experimenting with sculpt making and stop-motion work within the 1930’s.

After he enlisted within the U.S Army in 1942, Harryhausen worked on designs and artwork for U.S Army publication ‘Yank’ and served under future ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ director Frank Capra to create army-instruction films.

After the conflict, Harryhausen was able to work alongside his hero Willis O’Brien, on what could be his breakthrough picture ‘Mighty Joe Young’.

In 1953, Harryhausen’s solo effort ‘The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms’ (an adaptation of a short tale by Ray’s lifetime friend Ray Bradbury) grew to become a box office victory. Next, the 1955 production of ‘It Came From Beneath the Sea’ celebrated the first collaboration between Harryhausen and Producer Charles H. Schneer, the person who would work with him on his most popular movies over the following 3 decades.

Harryhausen worked in the course of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, creating many massively admired creatures and fantastic, dream like journey sequences. ‘Clash of the Titans’, developed in 1981, is considered by many to be his magnum opus.

In 1992, Harryhausen established a special Oscar for his achievements and gifts to the art of cinema.

In 2002, Harryhausen worked alongside animators Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh to complete ‘The Tortoise & The Hare’, a fairy tale short that Ray had begun in 1952.

In 2007, he executive-produced a short film based on E.A Poe’s ‘The Pit & The Pendulum’.

In his autobiography, Harryhausen says “Looking back over the years I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in so many thrilling projects, the best of which I presume did mature and grow into full-length feature movies”.

He donated his entire private collection of models, which consisted of around 20,000 scrupulously hand crafted models, to that National Media Museum in Bradford in 2010. It is here, along with in the imaginations of these he continues to inspire, that Ray Harryhausen’s heritage will live on.

 

SOURCES:

 

Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life (Book) by Ray Harryhausen & Tony Dalton

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-22441567

http://movies.nytimes.com/person/93588/Ray-Harryhausen/biography

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0366063/