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A Tribute to Ray Harryhausen

30 June 2010
Ray Harryhausen accepting his Special BAFTA Award for a Unique and Outstanding Contribution to Cinema (BAFTA/Brian J Ritchie).BAFTA/Brian J Ritchie

The Academy and a host of special guests paid tribute to the special-effects legend Ray Harryhausen in celebration of his 90th birthday.

A giant cyclops, an army of fighting skeletons, a terrifying Medusa and towering angry dinosaurs – Ray Harryhausen’s awesome creations have frightfully delighted several generations of children and adults while changing the face of cinema forever. Watch a host of friends and colleagues pay tribute to this legend of British cinema.

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On 26 June 2010, BAFTA and the British Film Institute came together to hold a starry special 90th birthday celebration for Ray Harryhausen at the BFI Southbank.

The night was full of deeply moving and personal tributes from some of the biggest names in the film business. John Landis charmed and amused as the host with an array of visitors including special effects make up master Rick Baker, Dennis Muren (the only effects specialist other than Ray to have a star on Hollywood Boulevard), Bond girl Caroline Munro and animator/visual effects designer Randy Cook (Lord of the Rings, The Thing).

Video tributes also came in from around the globe: James Cameron, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who claimed that Star Wars would have never been made without Ray.

The audience of industry fans - Reece Shearsmith, Andy Serkis, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg - and the public were delighted to discover that Peter Jackson was in the house. As one of the evening’s many great surprises, he attended the ceremony to present Ray with a BAFTA Special Award for a Unique and Outstanding Contribution to Cinema and gave us a special glimpse of some sweetly funny never-seen super 8 footage of his 14 year old self recreating scenes from Jason and the Argonauts.

Perhaps the greatest moment of the evening was reserved for Ray’s closest friend Ray Bradbury in a pre-recorded tribute Ray Bradbury from Los Angeles. He told of the first time they met as teenagers, when Harryhausen invited him back to his house to see his dinosaurs and the two have been best friends ever since. In a seven-decade long friendship, Bradbury and Harryhasuen have spoken once a month supporting each other through the creation of modern science fiction/fantasy literature and film respectively.

Peter Jackson presents Ray with the BAFTA Special Award

Peter Jackson