The world has lost a giant in the world of special effects. Stop motion/Dynamation pioneer Ray Harryhausen passed away at the age of 92 on May 7. Countless Baby Boomers remember 1953’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (in which Ray Harryhausen brought to life The Beast, based on “The Fog Horn,” penned by his good friend Ray Bradbury.) We also remember the octopus in It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), the flying saucers in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), the Ymir in 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957),the myriad of creatures in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), and especially the skeleton scene in Jason and the Argonauts (1963). When asked which was his favorite of the creatures he created, Mr. Harryhausen was quoted in the May 7th edition of The Guardian as saying, “It would be Medusa. But don’t tell the others.” Medusa appeared in Clash of the Titans (1981). Mr. Harryhausen received a career Academy Award for Technical Achievement (the Gordon E. Sawyer Award) in 1992. At the program, actor Tom Hanks famously said, “Some people say Casablanca or Citizen Kane–I say Jason and the Argonauts is the greatest film ever made!”
(Check for 3 Worlds of Gulliver and Clash of the Titans on DVD in the Alameda County Library, and Ray Harryhausen: an Animated Life and A Century of Stop Motion Animation: From Melies to Aardman, both by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton, in the non-fiction book section.)
Mr. Harryhausen may have left this world, but the mythical creatures he created will be enjoyed by generations to come.