May 7, 2013 at 2:08 PM ET
Ray Harryhausen, the special-effects and stop-motion pioneer whose work on fantasy and monster movies delighted millions and inspired a generation of filmmakers, died Tuesday at age 92, his family reports.
"Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive," the family statement read. "Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so."
Filmmakers Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, and George Lucas are among those who've credited Harryhausen with lending them inspiration.
Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic's Twitter account sent out a quote from the "Star Wars" creator himself, saying "Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars."
Harryhausen's films included "Mighty Joe Young," "It Came From Beneath the Sea," "20 Million Miles to Earth," "One Million Years B.C.," "The Valley of Gwangi" and "Clash of the Titans."
His foundation's Facebook page notes that "he is perhaps best remembered for his extraordinary animation of seven skeletons in 'Jason and the Argonauts ' (1963) which took him three months to film."
Harryhausen is honored in the 2001 movie "Monsters Inc.," when monsters Mike and Celia go on a date to Harryhausen's restaurant.
"I'm sad to hear that Ray Harryhausen has died," Mike Nelson, former head writer for "Mystery Science Theater 3000," wrote on Facebook. "What a great career. Got to meet him a few times at my Legend Films office, seemed like a wonderful guy. RIP."
Wrote fan Harvey O'Brien on Facebook, "A living legend has become a past master. His name endures in popular culture in spite of the aesthetic and industrial changes to (special effects) in the CGI era, which tells you everything you need to know about his contribution to cinema."
And Di Brown wrote, "If you enjoy film, Ray touched your life. Most of today's major names in film cite Ray as the reason they chose their career path. And many could take a lesson from the unassuming and humble life led by a man who could have been forgiven for being far less so. Our world is diminished by his absence."