News Column

Ray Harryhausen, Special Effects Pioneer, Dies at 92

May 7, 2013

Special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion techniques in the 1950's and 1960's laid the groundwork for modern cinematic blockbusters, died in London at the age of 92, according to an announcement Tuesday on his Facebook page.

"The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, visual effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator," said the announcement, which was followed by tributes from the likes of modern day innovators such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.

Born in Los Angeles in 1920, Harryhausen became interested in special effects after seeing King Kong in 1933, and used puppets and marionettes to try to recreate some of the film's signature moments.

Harryhausen worked under several notable directors and animators before running his own special effects crew on the classic 1958 film, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. The film climaxed in a fight scene between the hero and a skeleton, a battle that was renewed in 1963's Jason and the Argonauts which featured a horde of warring skeletons.

Later films included the 1967 Raquel Welch movie One Million Years B.C., The Golden Voyage of Sinbad in 1974, and the 1981 epic Clash of the Titans. In 1992, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for technical achievement.

Directors paid tribute to his legacy with comments on his Facebook page.

"The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much," said Star Wars creator George Lucas. "Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars."

"The Lord of the Rings is my Ray Harryhausen movie," said the film's director Peter Jackson. "Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made - not by me at least."

"Ray, your inspiration goes with us forever," said Steven Spielberg.

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Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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