Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013)

It was reported today that animator Ray Harryhausen has passed away. He was 92 years old.

He and Ray Bradbury were born in the same year, and first met in Los Angeles when they were both in their teens. They shared a passion for dinosaurs and King Kong, and remained friends across the decades.

The two Rays never directly collaborated, but they both had credits on the 1950s movie The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Bradbury wrote the story the film derived from; Harryhausen brought the Beast to life with his amazing animation, achieved on a remarkably low budget.

Some years later, Bradbury wrote a short story called "Tyrannosaurus Rex", about a monstrous film producer and the stop-motion animator who wreaks sweet revenge on him. Harryhausen was clearly the model for the animator (but I don't think the real-life producer has ever been identified...).

Later still, Bradbury made a fictionalised version of Harryhausen into a central character of his Hollywood novel Graveyard for Lunatics.

As the two Rays aged, and travel became difficult, they saw less of each other. Their last meeting was about six years ago when London-based Harryhausen made his last trip to Los Angeles. The photo above shows the two at a public event in 2007.

Three years ago, Ray Harryhausen announced that he was donating the life's work - models, papers, the lot - to the National Media Museum in Bradford, England. This should ensure that his work is properly memorialised, and that researchers will be able to gain access to his sketches and working papers.

Looking back, I am surprised to see how often I mentioned Harryhausen on this blog, but when you consider the importance of the two Rays to each other, there is no real surprise. Click here to see previous posts about the late, great Ray Harryhausen.

No comments: