Ray Harryhausen (June 29, 1920 – May 7, 2013) RIP

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I remember seeing Jason and the Argonauts on television when I was young. The stop motion monsters and effects scared the bejeezus out of me. Years later when I was older and (I thought) more sophisticated, Clash of the Titans didn’t scare me, but it impressed the hell out of me.

It was after a 13 year-old Ray watched the 1933 film King Kong that he got hooked on stop-motion effects. In his words he was, “stunned and haunted. They looked absolutely lifelike … I wanted to know how it was done.”

He started experimenting with stop motion photography and was even working on a huge project when the release of Fantasia and later the Second World War interrupted his progress. After the war he began doing short films and wound up helping on his first feature film, the King Kong “knock off”  Mighty Joe Young.

Working on such classics as The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, and, of course Jason and the Argonauts just to name a couple, he kept making his short films. He also continued to experiment with stop motion and developed a split screen system called Dynamation.  In 1992 he received the Gordon E Sawyer Academy Award for technical achievement. While not all his films had great casts, budgets or outstanding scripts, his work was always the highlight of the film.

Ray was a multi-talented man who inspired Steven Spielberg and others in the film industry. After he retired he returned to sculpting and traveled the world giving lectures and exhibitions of his work. In 2004 he wrote his autobiography and  last year the documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan was released.

When asked which creation was his favourite Ray said, “Medusa, but don’t tell the others.”

He was a modest and likeable man who will be missed by many. He was also a pioneer in the stop motion industry.

So long Ray, the party won’t be the same without you.

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Raymond Frederick Harryhausen, born 29 June 1920; died 7 May 2013