Ray Harryhausen, a special effects whiz who wowed a generation

May 07, 2013 | 1:49 p.m.
afp getty file   special effects pioneer ray harryhausen pas1 Ray Harryhausen, a special effects whiz who wowed a generation

Ray Harryhausen poses with an enlarged model of Medusa from his 1981 film "Clash of the Titans" at the Myths and Legends Exhibition at the London Film Museum on June 29, 2010. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

afp getty file   special effects pioneer ray harryhausen2 Ray Harryhausen, a special effects whiz who wowed a generation

Ray Harryhausen poses for photographs with an enlarged model of Medusa from his 1981 film "Clash of the Titans" at the Myths and Legends Exhibition at the London Film Museum on June 29, 2010. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

special effects pioneer ray harryhausen2 Ray Harryhausen, a special effects whiz who wowed a generation

Ray Harryhausen manipulates a figure of a serpent-like monster, circa 1965. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Greek warrior Jason (Todd Armstrong) travels to the farthest ends of the earth in search of the legendary Golden Fleece, in this glorious adventure featuring some of Ray Harryhausen's most memorable visual effects. (American Cinematheque)

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Ray Harryhausen poses with sets from "The Tortoise and the Hare," which he completed with the help of freelance stop–motion animators Seamus Walsh, Mark Caballero and producer Richard Jones. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

afp getty file   special effects pioneer ray harryhausen pas Ray Harryhausen, a special effects whiz who wowed a generation

Ray Harryhausen appears onstage at the Jules Verne Adventure Film Festival at the Shrine Auditorium on Oct. 6, 2006, in Los Angeles. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Ray Harryhausen, the beloved special effects wizard known for his pioneering efforts in stop-motion animation, the painstaking technique that requires animators to manipulate a puppet’s movement frame-by-frame, died Tuesday in London at the age of 92.

Born in Los Angeles in 1920, Harryhausen began crafting his own versions of prehistoric creatures as a young boy. The pastime turned into a profession, and with films including “Mighty Joe Young” (1949), “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963) and “One Million Years B.C.” (1966), Harryhausen brought wild creatures to life in adventurous worlds, mesmerizing a generation who would be inspired to make their own films, both live-action and animated.

One ardent admirer was a young Tim Burton, who told Hero Complex earlier this year that as a boy, he knew the work of Harryhausen before that of Orson Welles.

“I remember seeing ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ on the big screen,” Burton said. “It was at the [Avalon] Theatre on Catalina Island. It’s one of those old theaters with beautiful murals inside. It’s designed like a weird seashell kind of thing. Seeing that movie there, I remember that. That one definitely had an impact on me.”

In 1992, Harryhausen was presented with the Gordon E. Sawyer Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his technical contributions to the world of moviemaking.

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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Ray Harryhausen poses with sets from "The Tortoise and the Hare," which he completed with the help of freelance stop–motion animators Seamus Walsh, Mark Caballero and producer Richard Jones. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

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Comments


3 Responses to Ray Harryhausen, a special effects whiz who wowed a generation

  1. Richard Travis says:

    The course of film history certainly was nudged by the work of Ray Harryhausen. His unique legacy is cherished by many and his influence quite measurable even today. He will be missed.

  2. Scoop64 says:

    I grew up watching his movies – being scared by fantastic creatures while loving the adventure. Now Mr. Harryhausen has begun a new adventure, one that we must all take. My sympathy to his family and close friends and co-workers. Rest in Peace dear man.

  3. John Sackett says:

    I just sent my son an email telling him that I could not wait for Saturday afternoons when I could watch one of Mr. Harryhausen's movies. He was a GENUIS!

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