Tuesday, 7 May 2013

R.I.P RAY HARRYHAUSEN








It was with genuine sadness a few minutes ago I learned of the death of Ray Harryhausen. Ray was, of course, a true legend in his own lifetime so I will not even try to list his achievements here. I first met Ray during my early days working as a messenger in the London offices of Columbia Pictures. We spoke for only a minute or two but I was thrilled to meet one of my heroes. Several years later I was commissioned by a French film magazine to do an interview with Ray. I simply looked him up in the phonebook and rang him. He graciously invited me to his beautiful home in Kensington. I was a very inexperienced interviewer and the great man showed infinite patience and was a charming host. It was a magical afternoon and he very kindly allowed me a quick look into his workshop - at the time he was working models for the forthcoming  GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD and he was understandably a bit secretive about revealing his creations for the film. I was privileged to be able to hold the original GWANGI - a model that Ray's cat attacked at every opportunity. Later I shared tea with Ray and his charming wife. Ray felt that some of his answers to my questions were not to clear and a week later I received in the post several closely typed sheets of paper with more detailed answers - that he would take time out from his busy schedule to do this was very much the measure of the man.  A few days later in Russell Square I bumped into director Gordon Hessler whom I had met on a couple of occasions when he was working with Vincent Price and he told me how thrilled he was to be working with Ray whose films he had admired for years.I believed for a long time that the interview never appeared in L'ECRAN FANTASTIQUE although I found out later that they had printed it without informing or paying me. I subsequently gave the interview to Gary Svehla who arranged for it to be published in the American fanzine THE LATE SHOW No.3 and it was later reprinted in an English fanzine.

My afternoon with Ray was something I will never forget and I mourn his passing. From his amatuer films (available on DVD), through his work on MIGHTY JOE YOUNG and his long a successful collaboration with producer Charles H. Schneer Ray gave us wonder upon wonder - his legacy is truly the stuff that dreams are made of.  R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen...and thank you.

1 comment:

James wellyousaythat said...

Harryhausen, much like Gerry Anderson, captured my young imagination. His work had that all important thing that is sadly missing in the world of CGI: charm