Legendary stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen passed away on May 7, 2013, in London at the age of 92. He was born in Los Angeles, CA, on June 29, 1920, and his love for stop-motion animation began after watching 1933’s King Kong, leading him to create his own stop-motion films in his garage before moving to a career in cinema special effects. His earliest credits included stints with George Pal on the popular “Puppetoons” short films, Frank Capra on the Army Motion Picture Unit during World War II, and eventually King Kong‘s animator Willis O’Brien on 1949’s Mighty Joe Young, which earned the men an Academy Award for special effects.
Harryhausen developed feature film projects of his own, with 1952’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms becoming a sleeper hit that firmly established his reputation in Hollywood as an effects animator. His subsequent films brought various monsters, dinosaurs, aliens, and mystical creatures to vivid life on screen in films like Jason and the Argonauts, One Million Years B.C., The Valley of Gwangi, a trio of movies about Sinbad the Sailor, and First Men in the Moon. His last major feature film was 1981’s Clash of the Titans, starring Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith, which was remade as a CGI effects epic in 2010. He also received the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for Technical Achievement at the Scientific and Technical Achievement portion of the 1992 Academy Awards, where presenter Tom Hanks named Jason and the Argonauts as his personal “greatest picture of all time.”