Ray Harryhausen, a legendary and profoundly influential figure in the world of Hollywood special effects, died today (May 7) in London at the age of 92. The news was announced by his family via Facebook.
Harryhausen’s trailblazing career included pioneering work in stop-motion animation which was blended with live action footage in films such as “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” (1958), “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963), “One Million Years B.C.” (1966) and his final film, “Clash of the Titans” (1981).
Harryhausen was inspired by the innovative work of Wallis O’Brien in 1933’s classic “King Kong” and worked with his idol on the 1949 film “Mighty Joe Young,” for which O’Brien won an Oscar. Harryhausen then went on to establish his own career with the 1953 monster movie “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.”
Despite the widespread appeal of his work and the acclaim it received, Harryhausen never won or was even nominated for a competitive Academy Award. But he did receive an honorary Oscar in 1992 for his contributions to the film industry.
Just as Harryhausen was inspired by Wallis, Harryhausen’s work inspired scores of filmmakers including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Tim Burton and “Wallace & Gromit” creator Nick Park. Pixar’s 2001 film “Monster’s Inc.” includes a sly tribute to the master: the name of the sushi restaurant Mike takes Celia to on their date is “Harryhausen’s.”
In 1986, Harryhausen established the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a charitable Trust devoted to the protection of Harryhausen’s name and body of work as well as archiving, preserving and restoring his extensive collection.
Watch a clip of one of Harryhausen’s most famous scenes — the skeleton fight from “Jason and the Argonauts” — below: