Throughout Ray’s remarkable working life he always worked in a dark, small backroom creating so many worlds of wonder and imagination with little or no recognition. Now, today’s film makers realise his unique talent and the legacy he has given to the history of fantasy cinema. Here are just some of the tributes.
We’re joined at the hip and we’re joined at the brow and joined in our imagination.
Ray Bradbury (friend and writer)
The seven-year old child that was me was irreparably changed forever in 1958 watching The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, when from the mouth of the monumental sculpture, "The mark of some ancient civilization", an evil magician emerges pursued by the Cyclops. What it was it that I was witnessing? I only knew what I was witnessing was wonderful. I grew up, virtually alone, with the obsession to ... to do what? I'd no idea what I was seeing. To me this was the most amazing mystery of the unknown. Years later, through the mentorship of Famous Monsters of Filmland and then Forry Ackerman himself, I was to learn how the fantastic images were brought to life.
Then one day, years later, my mom tells me, "There is a man on the phone... a Forry something." And Forry asks me if I'd be interested in meeting Ray Harryhausen at his 'Ackermansion" the next week. The afternoon I met Ray I also was introduced to a very small group of quite young men also interested in 'Special Visual Effects' and, in particular the magic of stop motion animation, guys that became my friends and colleagues; Dennis Muren, Ken Ralston and Jon Berg. Little did we know that, living in a parallel universe, George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, and Peter Jackson - who weren't even who they were back then ... were getting doused with a jolt of inspiration from Ray. This was in an era where, if you wanted to see a movie you had to see it when it played in the local theater, IF you could talk mom or dad into taking you and IF you had enough lawn mowing money saved up.
Ray's influence on filmmakers has been profound; a testament to belief in one's self, one's obsessions, or as the other Ray, Ray Bradbury - Ray H's close friend, would say 'Your loves, ' as well as to craft and artistry in an age where a single hard working artist, an amazingly prolific workhorse, contended with all of the Herculean obstacles that one faces making a motion picture year after year to inspire us as filmgoers and, for some of us to stand on his shoulders.
And, every time that Cyclops emerges from that cave I reconnect with the seven year old that I was and still am. That's magic.
Phil Tippett (visual effects supervisor)
Thanks to Ray for all he has given me and all the other people in this goofy business of ours. He is an inspiration to us all and I don’t know where any of us would be right now without him.
Dennis Muren (visual effects supervisor)
If you are tired of explosions, cursing, and lots of violence when you go to the movies, then watch Ray’s films.
Ricardo Delgado in issue one of Age of Reptiles: The Journey No 1. (artist)
The reason I got into the business is because of Ray and he inspires me in the work I do today. He is the master.
Ken Ralston (visual effects supervisor)
Ray Harryhausen is a name I have known for over 45 years, since I was but a very small child, when my parents read the credits of one of his films to me. Mysterious Island was that film, and it changed my life, forever! Visiting with Ray and Diana at their London home, on three different Christmas weeks over the past 8 years, was like going home to me. A genuine modesty and generosity that is not so common these days.
Others can relate his impact as one of cinema's greatest artists better than I can, but my words here are meant to celebrate Ray the man and how he impacted my life, and continues to do so, and will always.
Bruce Crawford (Documentary Producer/Film Historian)
A man who has inspired us all, one frame at a time.
The Secret Lab, Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Company.
I have told of seeing The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad when I was eight years old many times. And for me, that experience of “suspension of disbelief” was a defining moment of my life. When I asked my Mom, “who makes the movie?” she answered, “the director.” So from that moment on, a director was all I wanted to be. It wasn’t for years that I discovered that sometimes it isn’t the director who “makes the movie.”
Born in 1950 meant that I saw most of Ray’s films in their original theatrical release and others like Mighty Joe Young, Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, It Came From Beneath The Sea and Earth vs. The Flying Saucers I watched over and over again on television.
Ray is truly unique in the history of movies as a special effects technician who is really the auteur of his films. Working with many directors and screenwriters, the stop motion creatures and vehicles Ray created were not only the stars of those movies, but the main reason for those movies to exist at all.
Jason and the Argonauts remains my favorite of Ray’s films, probably because it has the best script of all of his pictures. But all of his films hold a special place in both my heart and my mind. Maybe it is the tactile reality of movement generated by Ray’s hands and the extraordinary personalities his figures display that makes his work so special. I don’t know. But I do know that Ray Harryhausen is a true giant of the cinema and I am proud to call him both my mentor and my friend.
John Landis (Director, Producer, Writer and Actor)
Ray is an extraordinary fellow.
Above all I think of him as an artist in time, space, and movement – in animation.
But I never cease to be amazed by the sheer scale of his achievement. He virtually created a cinema genre – and then having created it, he sustained it, carried it, and developed it almost single-handedly.
He has been variously: creator, designer, writer, director, cameraman, sculptor, model-maker and animator. He ‘s done it all, and a lot of it he did on his own. And of course he did it brilliantly well. The drawing and sculpting and animating are always bright and vibrant. The puppets still look wonderful in the hand – allowing for a little gentle decrepitude of the latex – and the armatures still work beautifully today.
This is the man who worked with the man who more-or-less invented 3D character animation. Yes there were other, earlier pioneers, but Willis O Brien was the main man in about 1915. He of course went on to make the Lost World and King Kong, the films that influenced and inspired Ray.
And if Obie inspired Ray, then Ray in turn has inspired – well endless million fans but also thousands - tens of thousands – of animators, model-makers and FX practitioners of every sort. Including of course myself, and so many of my colleagues here at Aardman. His is an amazing achievement and an incredible creative legacy.
And did I mention he’s also the perfect gentleman? Well he is.
Peter Lord (Producer, Director, Writer & Animator)
To the Boomers, the so-called Monster Kids, who grew up in the 1950s and '60s, there was no greater inspiration than Ray Harryhausen. His creatures brought to life mythology and legends we had only read about. But thanks to his "Superdynamation" techniques, our hungry little imaginations were fed the Food of the Gods. You cannot overstate the influence Harryhausen and his artistry brought to generations of writers, illustrators and filmmakers. He is the King.
Mick Garris (Writer, Producer, Director)
Before an individual can become a mentor or an inspiration they must first have unparalleled respect. One of those rare individuals who has earned the highest respect and esteem is Ray Harryhausen. His creative achievements are legendary. His name appears on the credits of many famous films. However, the glory of Ray is his warmth and spirit. The greatest gift anyone can give to the world is being an example of dignity, ethics, loyalty, responsibility and grace. He has been a valued friend over decades. I always looked forward to his calls so I could hear that deep, rich voice say my name, “Hello Bob.” I feel grateful that I have had the pleasure to know Ray as a friend and share the excitement of his work. It is a name that will live on into history, Ray Harryhausen.
Bob Burns (Archivist and film historian)
Ray was captivated by Willis O’Brien’s King Kong. And now Ray like Kong stands on a peak high above the world of storytelling as a beacon of creative light. He is without question the person who has almost single handedly created visions of wonder which have inspired some of the best filmmakers in the world. And in so doing, the visual effects industry was created and necessary to bring the visions of these new filmmakers to life.
Ray’s legacy is monumental to contemporary and future storytelling.
Founder of the Visual Effects Society
Ray Harryhausen is a legend, a genius, an artist, a filmmaker, a magician , but more than all of that, he is an inspiration.
Ray has inspired a whole generation of visual effects artists, and filmmakers.
Ray showed us the way. One frame at a time, 24 frames a second.
He showed us how monsters moved, what they looked like, where they lived, all through his visual effects magic.
What is most important to me is that Ray showed us that a grown man could play with monsters and get away with it. Even get paid to do it. How cool is that? Make monsters, and get paid to play with them. That is what I want to do when I grow up.
Thanks Ray for showing me the way.
Rick Baker (Makeup Designer, Visual Effects Consultant, Actor and Producer)
I suppose for many of us, Ray Harryhausen was our Beethoven - a Titan struggling with the gods - as Wagner once described Beethoven. Many have made good on this ambition, and done great credit to the example that Ray's artistry and dedication inspired. In any case, gratitude is the highest tribute among artists, and I thank Ray for providing me the pleasure of his work my whole life.David Allen (1944-1999)
(Producer, Director and Animator)
Ray, I would like to thank your imagination that created the believable visions and world of Dynamation, because it changed the way that a seven-year old boy looked on life. From that day on, my obsession and thirst for knowledge about your work sparked a passion, which created a career that has taken me all over the globe. I believe that your work is still having that same effect on new generations of imaginations, and so it should. I feel so lucky and privileged to have had the chance to meet, talk and work on a project with you. I am forever in your debt.John Swinnerton
Visual Effects Supervisor