Born: 2 March 1886
Died: 8 November 1962
Birthplace: Oakland, California
Best known as:
The animator of the original King Kong
Willis O'Brien was the special effects artist who pioneered the technique of stop motion animation and the man behind the 1933 movie classic King Kong. A former newspaper cartoonist and sculptor, O'Brien began making short films in 1914. His animated dinosaurs for the film version of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1925) and his work on King Kong are considered classic examples of stop-motion photography. Despite the success of King Kong, O'Brien spent most of his career trying to get various projects financed. Now a legend among horror, dinosaur and animation fans, O'Brien did not enjoy great success while he was alive. He did, however, win the first-ever Oscar for special effects, for the animation in 1949's Mighty Joe Young (his assistant on that film was Ray Harryhausen). O'Brien's other films include The Last Days of Pompeii (1935) and The Black Scorpion (1957).
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