Visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen dead at 92

May 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM
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LONDON, May 8 (UPI) -- Visual effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator Ray Harryhausen has died in London, his family announced on Facebook. He was 92.

"He was a multi-award winner, which includes a special Oscar and BAFTA," noted the Facebook posting announcing his death Tuesday.

"Ray's influence on today's filmmakers was enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and the United Kingdom's own Nick Park have cited Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations," the message said. "Harryhausen's fascination with animated models began when he first saw Willis O'Brien's creations in 'King Kong' with his boyhood friend, the author Ray Bradbury in 1933, and he made his first foray into filmmaking in 1935 with home-movies that featured his youthful attempts at model animation."

Harryhausen's film credits include "Mighty Joe Young," "It Came From Beneath the Sea," "20 Million Miles to Earth," "One Million Years B.C.," "Sinbad," "Jason and the Argonauts" and "Clash of the Titans."

The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, founded in 1986, remains devoted to the protection of Ray's name and body of work as well as archiving, preserving and restoring Ray's extensive collection, the Facebook message said.

"Star Wars" creator George Lucas has been quoted in the past as praising Harryhausen as a trailblazer.

"Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much," Lucas said. "Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no 'Star Wars.'"

"'The Lord of the Rings' is my 'Ray Harryhausen movie,'" said filmmaker Peter Jackson. "Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made -- not by me at least."

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