Long before the days when computers could bring any conceivable image to life on the big screen, we had Ray Harryhausen: a visual effects pioneer who championed the realization of breathtaking scenes, creatures, and worlds in the early days of Hollywood. The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation shared the sad news on Tuesday that the cinematic great has passed away at the age of 92 for unspecified, leaving behind wife (and the organization’s fellow namesake) Diana Livingstone Bruce, and a legion of grateful film buffs who have devoured his work for decades.
In the business since the 1940s, Harryhausen has contributed to some of the greatest, most important exploits in film history, most notably science fiction and fantasy. As a visual effects artist and technician, Harryhausen breathed life into greats like Mighty Joe Young, It Came from beneath the Sea, 20 Million Miles to Earth, and Mysterious Island. He went on to explore new creative ventures as a producer, crafting Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans later in his career.
Having assisted Oscar-winning special effects artists like King Kong animator Willis O’Brien, Harryhausen eventually received his own honor from the Academy. In 1992, the animator won the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for a career of technological contributions.
Along with physical prizes, blockbuster filmmakers like Peter Jackson, Geroge Lucas, Tim Burton, James Cameron, and Steven Spielberg have named Harryhausen as a major influence. Lucas as said that, ‘Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars.”
Harryhausen’s work on the big screen charted the course for today’s vast cosmos of animation, CGI, and motion capture technology. Film has the legendary artist to thank for expanding the very idea of possibility.