Legendary Hollywood lighting tricks man Ray Harryhausen passed on to the great beyond in London’s Hammersmith hospital recently. He was 92 years old.
The animator and business leader was distinguished for his innovation of latest simulation practice, as well as a parade of iconic and unforgettable screen creations.
Harryhausen’s sculpt work and exclusive creature models could be seen in such films as ‘Clash of the Titans’, ‘Jason & The Argonauts’, ‘The Valley of Gwangi’ and his ‘Sinbad’ trilogy, among an excellent many others.
Tributes from various motion picture industry professionals have poured in over the last twenty four 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 mentioned Harryhausen as an inspiration, while James Cameron, who’s films 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 celebrated that Harryhausen was “a one-man industry and a one-man genre”.
Himself inspired by ‘King Kong’s special effects creator Willis O’Brien, young Harryhausen began experimenting with sculpt making and stop-motion work within the 30′s.
After he enlisted within the U.S Army in 1942, Harryhausen worked on designs and artwork for U.S Army magazine ‘Yank’ and acted under future ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ director Frank Capra to make army-instruction films.
After the war, Harryhausen was able to work alongside his hero Willis O’Brien, on what would be his breakthrough picture ‘Mighty Joe Young’.
In 1953, Harryhausen’s solo effort ‘The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms’ (an adaptation of a quick story by Ray’s lifelong friend Ray Bradbury) evolved into a box office success. Next, the 1955 production of ‘It Came From Beneath the Sea’ celebrated the first collaboration between Harryhausen and Producer Charles H. Schneer, the man who would succeed with him on his most popular movies over the next three decades.
Harryhausen partnered throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, creating many massively admired creatures and fantastic, dream like journey sequences. ‘Clash of the Titans’, announced in 1981, is considered by many to be his magnum opus.
In 1992, Harryhausen established a special Oscar for his achievements and offerings to the art of cinema.
In 2002, Harryhausen partnered alongside animators Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh to finish ‘The Tortoise & The Hare’, a fairy tale short that Ray had started 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 numerous exciting projects, the best of which I suppose did mature and grow into full-length feature films”.
He donated his entire personal collection of models, which consisted of around 20,000 scrupulously hand crafted models, to the National Media Museum in Bradford in 2010. It is here, in addition to inside the imaginations of those he continues to inspire, that Ray Harryhausen’s legacy will live on.
Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life (Book) by Ray Harryhausen & Tony Dalton
Hollywood Special effects Maestro Ray Harryhausen dies at 92