Visual effects maestro and stop-motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen passed away today, on May 7th, 2013. His family issued a statement earlier today. He was 92.
Best known for his work in creating stop-motion creatures in films like Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, Mighty Joe Young, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and countless others, Harryhausen initially apprenticed under Willis O’Brien, who was responsible for the stop-motion effects on the classic King Kong. From the motion of dinosaurs, to skeletons, to the snakes on Medusa’s head, Harryhausen defined our collective imaginations, giving movement to a variety of fantastic beasts. Generations of special effects filmmakers were influenced and inspired by Harryhausen, with reverberations of his style present in everything from Star Wars to The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Wonderfully, Harryhausen was also childhood friends with another famous Ray; author Ray Bradbury. The two met in high school and shared an interest in dinosaurs, monsters and all the wonderful creatures that both would eventually make into their careers. It’s hard to imagine the magic of this initial meeting, with neither young guy fully aware of how much their individual imaginations would re-shape the world forever. Famously, both vowed to “love dinosaurs forever.”
The art of stop-motion animation was revolutionized by Harryhausen and is unimaginable without considering his contributions. Ray Harryhausen put all of our favorite monsters into motion, and for that, we’ll never forget him.