Film effects pioneer Harryhausen dies, aged 92 | News | DW | 08.05.2013
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Film effects pioneer Harryhausen dies, aged 92

Hollywood special effects maker and animator Ray Harryhausen has died at the age of 92. The US-born visual pioneer has been credited with influencing a raft of film industry heavyweights.

Harryhausen's death in London, which he had made his home, was announced by his family on Tuesday along with a tribute to his work.

"The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, visual effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator," the announcement said.

Harryhausen was involved in a string of films that successively raised the bar in fantasy special effects. Among his groundbreaking creations were the skeletons fighting with swords of the early 1960s film 'Jason and the Argonauts' and the iconic dinosaurs of the 1967 Raquel Welch movie 'One Million Years BC.'

"Harryhausen's genius was in being able to bring his models alive," said the family statement.

Biographer and long-time friend of Harryhausen, Tony Dalton, added his own note of praise. "Ray did so much and influenced so many people," Dalton said. "His creatures were extraordinary, and his imagination was boundless."

Many of effects he made were done on a shoestring budget. Harryhausen's last film, the 1980s movie “Clash of the Titans,” was the only title he worked on with a blockbuster budget and an A-list cast.

Born in Los Angeles in 1920, Harryhausen was inspired by the 1933 classic movie King Kong. In turn, his work has inspired many of today's big industry names.

Tributes from top names

Star Wars franchise mastermind George Lucas paid tribute, saying that his own science fiction blockbuster romp would never have been made had it not been for the influence of Harryhausen.

"Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry," said Lucas. "The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.”

Director Peter Jackson went as far as to call the "Lord of the Rings" his "Ray Harryhausen movie."

"Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made - not by me at least," Jackson explained.

Director Steven Spielberg said Harryhausen's "inspiration goes with us forever."

rc/jr (AFP, AP, dpa)