Haruo „Godzilla“ Nakajima R.I.P.

Haruo Nakajima, der Mann im Gummianzug in den ersten 12 Godzilla-Filmen, ist im Alter von 88 Jahren gestorben.

Born in 1929, Nakajima's career began at the age of 33 in Sword for Hire, before roles in The Woman Who Touched the Legs, Eagle of the Pacific, Farewell Rabaul and then Seven Samurai in 1954. That same year he played the title role in the very first Godzilla film. He didn't know it at the time, but the role would make him a bonafide legend of cinema.

Nakajima spielte neben der Riesenechse (und ein paar Kaiju in Ultraman) auch Rodan, Mothra, Gaira, Mogera, Rodan, Meganulon und King Kong. Er war der Ur-Kaiju und ich werde die Woche wohl mal wieder einen Godzilla-Abend einlegen. (Der neue Shin Godzilla ist übrigens super.)

Danke für die ganzen Kaiju, Haruo! Sad day.

Aus einem alten Artikel über die Rubber Suit Kings: The Men & Modelers Behind the Monsters :

Inarguably the single most famous man to play a giant monster is actor-stuntman, Haruo Nakajima. Generally, when fans think of Suitmation, it's difficult to do so without an image of Nakajima as Godzilla entering ones mind. Destroying miniature sets while inside a 200+ pound suit, the energetic and athletic actor played the iconic Japanese atomic beast from 1954 to 1972 for a total of 12 performances. He joined Toho in 1950.

Among his classmates in the studio acting classes he attended were future fellow suit actor Shoichi Hirose and future big name star Tetsura Tamba. After performing stunts in EAGLE OF THE PACIFIC (1953) [and Kurosawas SEVEN SAMURAI], Nakajima's road to Godzilla was paved. Having intended to play the role till he was 50, he vacated the role permanently in 1972 with GODZILLA VS. GIGAN as his monster suit swan song at 43 years of age. Coupled with the death of Eiji Tsuburaya, the restructuring of Toho, paired with diminishing box office returns, Nakajima was ready to call it quits; then came the downsizing within the studio ranks.

The studio did find work for Nakajima around the lot, though; whether it was the Toho bowling alley, or managing their mahjong parlor. Indulging in a bit of nostalgia, Haruo "Mr. Godzilla" Nakajima put the costume back on one last time for a Japanese magazine photo shoot in 1983 (see insert at right). Godzilla's most famous player occasionally appeared "out of character" as an actor in these movies, as well as television shows like ULTRAMAN (episodes 25 and 33).