Ray Harryhausen: 100th Birthday Celebration
by Steve Vertlieb
Ray Harryhausen remains one of the most revered figures in fantasy/sci-fi motion picture history. Born June 29th, 1920, Ray was not only a childhood hero, but became a dear and cherished friend of nearly fifty years duration. June 29th, 2020, will commemorate his genius, as well as the joyous centennial of his birth with numerous remembrances, events, and exhibitions in celebration of his 100th birthday throughout the wondrous months ahead.
His work in films inspired and influenced generations of film makers, and garnered him a special Academy Award, presented by Tom Hanks, for a lifetime of cinematic achievement. Steven Spielberg joyously proclaimed that his own inspiration for directing Jurassic Park was the pioneering special effects work of Harryhausen.
Published shortly after his death on May 7th, 2013, here is a celebration and loving remembrance of the life and work of the cinematic master, and special effects genius, Ray Harryhausen. It is also the tender story of a very special man, as well as an often remarkable personal friendship. I love you, Ray. You filled my dreams, my life, and my world with your wondrous creatures.
In remembrance of this wonderful soul, here is my affectionate tribute to my friend of nearly fifty years, and boyhood hero of interminable recollection and duration... the incomparable "Stop Motion" genius, and Oscar honored special effects pioneer, Ray Harryhausen.
Journey with me now to a Land Beyond Beyond where dreams were born, cyclopean creatures thundered across a primeval landscape, mythological dragons roared in awe struck wonder, and magical stallions ascended above the clouds... Once Upon A Time.
Ray Harryhausen was a dear personal friend and life long hero for most of my seventy four years. We were friends for nearly half a century. When he passed away, I was privileged to receive an invitation to his memorial service and funeral in London. Although I was financially unable to attend, it was nonetheless a great honor to have been invited to such a momentous farewell tribute to my boyhood hero, and cinematic legend.