Ray Harryhausen was born in Los Angeles, surrounded by the trappings and allure of Hollywood. It was no wonder that he was drawn to moviemaking, specifically the special effects aspect of it. From his father's basement, Harryhausen fashioned many intricate clay figures, animating them, and eventually plying his trade as an apprentice under the guidance of Willis O'Brien, legendary effects man behind the classic "King Kong", as well as working for George Pal on a series of "The Puppetoons" of the early 1940's. Harryhausen also created shorts fo the U.S. Army and other works before making a name for himself in the 1950's, bringing life and humanity to creations in such films as "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms," "It Came From Beneath the Sea," "Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers," "20 Million Miles to Earth," "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad," and "The Three Worlds of Gulliver."
Following the most productive 1950's, the animator created films that had an immeasurable impression on generations to come, inspiring such current filmmakers as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Harryhausen spearheaded the effects, also serving as producer, for "Mysterious Island," "One MIllion Years, B.C.," "The Valley of Gwangi," "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad," and "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger," and the star-studded "Clash of the Titans," featuring Sir Laurence Olivier, Burgess Meredith, Ursula Andress, Maggie Smith, Harry Hamlin, and Claire Bloom.
Harryhausen's technical wizardry was no more evident in his greatest achievement: 1963's "Jason and the Argonauts," featuring a no-holds barred battle between the title character, his men, and several sword-wielding skeletons. Combined with a powerful Bernard Herrmann score, this particular film has been a role model for aspiring filmmakers.
This report prepared by Reginald D. Garrard