Happy Birthday Ray Harryhausen
Legendary Special Effects Master Celebrates his 90th Birthday
Author: Loren Portillo
All photos courtesy of Loren Portillo
Stop motion animator and visual effects legend Ray Harrryhausen celebrates his 90th Birthday today, June 29, 2010.
With a film career that has spanned approximately forty years, fifteen feature films and various short subjects, Ray Harryhausen is a without question a living legend.
Ray’s illustrious career has been well documented over the years. His film credits include such classic titles THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, VALLEY OF GWANJI, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. and THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, which was a direct inspiration for the original 1954 Japanese film GOJIRA. After his 1981 film CLASH OF THE TITANS, Ray officially announced his retirement from the film Industry to concentrate on his own foundation, which helps preserve his animation puppets and sculpture work.
Over the last thirty years since he announced his retirement, Ray has been honored with numerous events that have celebrated his work. He has also received many awards, including a special Academy Award for a lifetime of achievement.
On a more personal note, it is hard to put into words what Ray Harryhausen has meant to me. Though most of my colleagues on this website are experts in this wonderful world of kaiju and Japanese cinema, I am often referred to as the “stop motion guy”. Though I am hardly an expert on the subject, I have had a special love and appreciation for Ray’s films and stop motion photography in general since I was a kid.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Ray on many special occasions over the years and it has always been an event for me. These days, meeting celebrities can be a very hands off type of situation, That is why I am glad that my heroes are approachable. Animators like Ray Harryhausen, Jim Danforth, Randy Cook, Phil Tippett, Jim Aupperle and so many others that I have met or befriended have been like rock stars to me. They have been very approachable and very generous with there time and knowledge. For that I am grateful.
A few years ago, I was at a special screening in Los Angeles, celebrating Ray’s career and film work. I was invited by friend (and Ray’s agent) Arnold Kunert to spend some time with Ray in the theater green room. Though I had met Ray on many fan based events, this was more of a one on one type of situation and it was quite an experience for me. I mean here I was, with SciFi Japan editor Keith Aiken, spending time and talking with the legend himself. Just us and a few close people. It might sound too fanboy to some, but I really don’t care, I had a ball asking Ray many questions and just spending time with him. He was very interested in what I had to say and his sense of humor is what I remember the most from our conversation.
So Mr. Ray Harryhausen, thank you so much for your contributions to the film industry and we hope you have a very Happy 90th Birthday……