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Master stop-action animator Ray Harryhausen dead at 92; his cinema contributions were legion

Posted By: Wonder Worlock
Tue, 05/07/2013 - 16:10


The unsung hero of imaginative movie goers of several generations died today, May 7, 2013. Stop-action master Ray Harryhausen was 92.

His achievements in adventure fantasy film read like a book on “Best Made Fantasy Films,” including the likes of Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, One Million Years B.C., the Sinbad series and one of my personal favorites, Mighty Joe Young.

Born in Los Angeles in June 1920, Raymond Frederick Harryhausen had a passion for dinosaurs as a child that led him to make his own versions of prehistoric creatures.

Films like 1925's The Lost World and the 1933 version of King Kong stoked that passion and prompted him to seek out a meeting with Willis O'Brien, a pioneer in the field of model animation.

Among some of Harryhausen’s best-known cinematic model “stars” are Talos and the seven sword-wielding skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and the snake-haired Medusa from his triumphant last film, Clash of the Titans (1981).

The American animator made his models by hand and painstakingly shot them frame by frame to create some of the best-known battle sequences in cinema.

They are a world away from the CGI and 3D effects of modern cinema, but Harryhausen is cited by the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Peter Jackson as an inspiration.

The veteran animator donated his complete collection -- about 20,000 objects -- to the National Media Museum in Bradford in 2010.

His death in London was confirmed to the BBC by a family representative.