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.

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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Comments (14)

  1. Titanictom

    Rest In Piece Mr Harryhausen You may be gone But Not Forgotten-Interestingly Enough This is also the Year of The 80th anniversary of the Origanal KING KONG!!!!!! The Film that got Mr Harryhausen into His Job/Work to Begin With;THe Film also inspired Peter Jackson as well when he Saw a Rerelease of it at The Age of 9!!!!!

    2 years agoby @titanictomFlag

  2. undeadslayer4

    wow i never heard of this guy and he just died R.I.P

    2 years agoby @undeadslayer4Flag

  3. mikehd

    Rip god bless

    2 years agoby @mikehdFlag

  4. CoreyB

    R.I.P. Sad day for cinema. My father was obsessed with harryhausen's work so you can imagine how much his films were on in our household growing up. Thanks for the memories Ray.

    2 years agoby @CoreyBFlag

  5. Seawolf63

    His films fueled my boyhood imagination, and that wonder still lingers to this day. Now my children enjoy them with me. I am very thankful for Ray Harryhausen's gift of magical entertainment. The Cyclops from, "THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD", has always been my favorite Harryhausen creature.

    2 years agoby @seawolf63Flag

  6. CelluloidDreams

    Do not grieve at the passing of mortality, for life's but a thing of terrible gravity. And the planets gravitate around you, and the stars shall dance about you, and the angels in heaven adore you, and the saints all stand and applaud you. So faraway, so faraway and yet so close.

    Nick Cave, "Far Away, So Close"

    2 years agoby @2movieguysFlag

  7. fxk12954

    Ray Harryhausen was the greatest of all stop motion special effect's wizards of all time,.....All his special effect creatures were top notch, favorite was Jason And The Argonauts.

    2 years agoby @fxk12954Flag

  8. Monkeyiron 2.0

    R.I.P I think you almost did work on one of my all time favorite movies

    2 years agoby @monkeyiron2-0Flag

  9. Adamsandlerfggot69

    Thanks for all you've done in making the world of movies great. RIP

    2 years agoby @adamsandlerfggot69Flag

  10. skywise

    Truly a sad day. This man was responsible for many of my favorite moments in movie history and definatly an icon to this day. Rest in peace sir, you truly deserve it.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  11. Brian

    Harryhausen forever.

    2 years agoby @brianFlag

  12. Replicant

    Thank you for your enormous contribution to cinema and may you rest in peace.

    2 years agoby @felipe-11Flag

  13. Mr.K

    This is just sad. May he rest in peace with all his great works of stop-motion wonder. R.I.P.

    2 years agoby @mr-kFlag

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