My Subscriber/ProCard Account  |  My Store Account  |  Sign up for our Mailing List  |  Cart Contents  |  Checkout   
Legendary Stop-Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen Dies at 92
(ABOVE) The late Ray Harryhausen with a skeleton from 'Jason and the Argonauts'

Legendary Stop-Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen Dies at 92

Posted: Tuesday May 07, 2013
Joe Nazzaro


It was in 1933 that a 13-year-old Ray Harryhausen, accompanied by his aunt and mother, made a trip to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to see “a movie about a gorilla.” That movie turned out to be King Kong, and it set the wide-eyed Harryhausen on a path to become one of the great visual effects artists of the 20th century.

For Harryhausen, who died in London on May 7 at age 92, that viewing of King Kong (the first of many) introduced him to the process of stop-motion animation, which in turn provided the means for turning his own childhood fantasies into reality. He began making his own stop-motion short films, eventually moving on to work with such industry legends as George Pal, Frank Capra and his idol, stop-motion animator Willis O’Brien, who he assisted on Mighty Joe Young (1949).

By the early ’50s, Harryhausen was supervising the visual effects on his own films, including It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955, for which he famously created a six-tentacled octopus in order to save money), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), Mysterious Island (1961), One Million Years B.C. (1966), The Valley of Gwangi (1969) and the Sinbad films.

Legendary Stop-Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen Dies at 92He is probably best remembered for his work on Jason and the Argonauts (1963), which featured the legendary skeleton fight that took him three months to animate; and Clash of the Titans (1981), remade in 2010 as a CG-heavy epic, much to Harryhausen’s displeasure. Unlike most genre films, where the complicated visual effects were handled by entire departments of artists and technicians, Harryhausen did it all himself, using his distinctive stop-motion techniques, christened Dynamation by producer/partner Charles H. Schneer. (AT LEFT: Harryhausen working on Medusa for Clash of the Titans)

Clash of the Titans turned out to be the last film before Harryhausen’s retirement in the early ’80s. “It was a gradual thing, not just a sudden decision,” he explained to this writer in a 1992 interview. “I had to spend a year and a half by myself on most of my pictures; you have to devote your whole life to it, and I found that a little distressing once I passed a certain age. How many more haircuts have you got left? I think I preferred to do something else than to be in a darkened room.”

Following his retirement, Harryhausen devoted much of his free time to sharing his legacy with new generations of film lovers. He traveled the world, often Legendary Stop-Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen Dies at 92accompanied by some of his original models, many of which had become distinctly worse for wear, and he wrote a series of coffee-table books with long-time archivist Tony Dalton. In 1992, he won the Gordon E. Sawyer Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for “technological contributions [which] have brought credit to the industry,” and in 2003, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (AT RIGHT: Harryhausen with a Medusa head from Clash of the Titans)
        
Harryhausen’s work will be seen by generations to come, thanks largely to the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a charitable trust that continues to catalogue and exhibit thousands of items from his personal archives. A new documentary, Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan, continues to air at film festivals and screenings. (See the trailer for it below.)

While the legacy of Ray Harryhausen will continue to be felt for many decades to come, perhaps no one can express that debt as well as animator-turned-director Terry Gilliam, who notes in a letter released by the foundation, “What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before, but without computers. Only with his digits.”

Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan trailer



The 7th Voyage of Sinbad trailer



Cyclops scene from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad



Jason and the Argonauts trailer

Joe Nazzaro

 

Recent Featured Articles
Get Inspired by New Kryolan Calendar - Wednesday December 17, 2014
Get Inspired by New Kryolan Calendar
Get inspired by the new Kryolan calendar, which features photos of models posed in 12 international locales spanning Canada to South Africa, often against well-known landmarks. Read on for more.
Oscar Watch 2015: Seven Films Compete for Make-up and Hairstyling Award - Monday December 15, 2014
Oscar Watch 2015: Seven Films Compete for Make-up and Hairstyling Award
On Dec. 15, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the seven films that will remain in competition for the 2015 Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling Academy Award. Click for the complete list.
Preview ‘Wolves’ Make-up With Dave Elsey - Thursday November 13, 2014
Preview ‘Wolves’ Make-up With Dave Elsey
Click through for all the details on the practical make-up effects Oscar winner Dave Elsey and his team created for the movie Wolves
Now Available: Issue 111 - Thursday November 06, 2014
Now Available: Issue 111
In Get Inspired! The Art and Design Package, artists share their design strategies, and we look at their roles in stop-motion animation, animatronics and puppetry.
Get the Details on Creature Make-up in ‘Constantine’ - Thursday October 30, 2014
Get the Details on Creature Make-up in ‘Constantine’
Click through for details on how Bill Johnson filled the Constantine pilot with monsters and demons.
Rare Look at Zombie Make-up in ‘Day of the Dead’ Book - Monday October 20, 2014
Rare Look at Zombie Make-up in ‘Day of the Dead’ Book
Get Halloween make-up inspiration and a rare look at the making of George Romero's classic film, Day of the Dead, with this new book.  
Oscar-Winning Artists Share Stories at New Yorker Festival - Sunday October 19, 2014
Oscar-Winning Artists Share Stories at New Yorker Festival
J. Roy Helland, Greg Cannom and Robin Mathews shared their industry experiences during a panel discussion at The New Yorker Festival.
Living Art America Body-Painting Event Hits Atlanta - Thursday October 16, 2014
Living Art America Body-Painting Event Hits Atlanta
Make-up artists and models from 10 countries and more than a dozen states recently converged on Atlanta for the North American Bodypainting Championship.
Winner Chosen for ‘New Yorker’ Panel Tickets - Thursday October 09, 2014
Winner Chosen for ‘New Yorker’ Panel Tickets
The winner received a pair of tickets to attend the “Extreme Makeover” panel during New Yorker magazine’s annual ideas-and-arts festival. Click for details.  
‘New Yorker’ Make-up Panel: How to Win Tickets - Wednesday October 01, 2014
‘New Yorker’ Make-up Panel: How to Win Tickets
Click through for details on how to win a pair of tickets to The New Yorker Festival, featuring a make-up artist panel discussion.
 

Get Inspired! The Art and Design Package
Skilled Artistry, Industry Remembrance at IMATS Vancouver
Sydney Show Shines in New Venue
Timeless Beauty
From 'Fury' to 'Foxcatcher'
Oscar Watch, Part I
Surgery, Supervillains and the Supernatural
The Human Canvas



 
 

About Us | Back Issues | Retail Locations | Distributors | Advertise | Store | Makeup411.com | IMATS | Subscriptions | Digital Edition
Links | F.A.Q. | Testimonials | Employment | Site Map | Contact Us

Twitter | Facebook

Copyright ©2014 Make-Up Artist magazine™
A Part of Key Publishing Group
.