Visual Effects Pioneer Ray Harryhausen Passes Away at Age 93

Directors Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron pay their respects to the legendary artist in a statement released by his family.
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Visual Effects Pioneer Ray Harryhausen Passes Away at Age 93

Ray Harryhausen passes away at age 93 The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation announced today that legendary visual effects pioneer and stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen passed away earlier today, at the age of 93. The foundation released the following statement, which illuminates the artist's iconic career, and includes quotes from top filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Peter Jackson, who pay their respects to the late legend.

Raymond Frederick Harryhausen

Born: Los Angeles 29th June 1920

Died: London 7th May 2013.

The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, Visual Effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator. He was a multi-award winner which includes a special Oscar and BAFTA. Ray's influence on today's filmmakers was enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and the UK's own Nick Park have cited Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations.

Harryhausen's fascination with animated models began when he first saw Willis H. 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. Over the period of the next 46 years, he made some of the genres best known movies - Mighty Joe Young (1949), It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), Mysterious Island (1961), One Million Years B.C. (1966), The Valley of the Gwangi (1969), three films based on the adventures of Sinbad and Clash of the Titans (1981). He is perhaps best remembered for his extraordinary animation of seven skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts (1963) which took him three months to film.

Harryhausen's genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray's hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so.

Today The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a charitable Trust set up by Ray on the 10th April 1986, is devoted to the protection of Ray's name and body of work as well as archiving, preserving and restoring Ray's extensive Collection.

Tributes have been heaped upon Harryhausen for his work by his peers in recent years.

George Lucas:

"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." "Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars."

Peter Jackson:

"The Lord of the Rings is my '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."

Nick Park:

"In my mind he will always be the king of stop-motion animation."

Randy Cook:

"His legacy of course is in good hands. Because it's carried in the DNA of so many film fans."

Phil Tippett:

"You know I'm always saying to the guys that I work with now on computer graphics 'do it like Ray Harryhausen.'"

Terry Gilliam:

"What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits."

Peter Jackson:

"His patience, his endurance have inspired so many of us."

Steven Spielberg:

"Ray, your inspiration goes with us forever."

James Cameron:

"I think all of us who are practioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we're standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray's contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn't be who we are."

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