US special effects pioneer hands archive to British museum

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The special effects maestro behind the army of skeletons in "Jason of the Argonauts" and the terrifying Medusa in "Clash of the Titans" handed over his collection to a British museum Tuesday.

Ray Harryhausen, 90, who perfected the art of stop-motion animation from the 1950s to the 1980s, said he was "pleased and honoured" that the National Media Museum in northern England would take over managing his archive.

It includes the skeleton warriors that fought the eponymous hero in the classic 1963 adventure film "Jason and the Argonauts", and the snake-haired Medusa and fiery sea-god Kraken from 1981's "Clash of the Titans".

Before being transferred to their final home, the models, drawings and equipment in the collection are being shown at an exhibition at the London Film Museum which opened Tuesday -- Harryhausen's 90th birthday -- for a year.

"Now I have reached 90 it is important, certainly in my profession which does not have a reputation for looking after cinematic artefacts, to preserve my art in all its forms -- models, drawings, equipment etc, and that this will be available for future generations," the US special effects wizard said.

Harryhausen also worked with animation pioneer Willis O'Brien -- the creator of "King Kong" -- on "Mighty Joe Brown" (1949) and created a tiny body double for Raquel Welch as she fled the dinosaurs in "One Million Years BC" (1966).

© 2010 AFP

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