Haruo Nakajima

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Haruo Nakajima
Haruo Nakajima 2013 (cropped).jpg
Nakajima in 2013
Native name 中島 春雄
Born (1929-01-01)January 1, 1929
Yamagata, Japan
Died August 7, 2017(2017-08-07) (aged 88)
Cause of death Pneumonia
Occupation Actor
Years active 1949–73
Known for Godzilla

Haruo Nakajima (中島 春雄, Nakajima Haruo) (January 1, 1929 – August 7, 2017)[1] was a Japanese actor, best known for portraying Godzilla in twelve consecutive films, starting from the original Godzilla (1954) until Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972). He also played various other giant monsters in kaiju films, including Mothra and The War of the Gargantuas, and also appeared in a minor role in the Akira Kurosawa film Seven Samurai.

Career[edit]

Nakajima was born in Yamagata, Japan. His first credited role in a motion picture was in the 1952 film Sword for Hire.[1] He began his career as a stunt actor in samurai films, and he acted in a small role in the 1954 film Seven Samurai, portraying a bandit.[1][2][3]

He was considered by many to be the best suit actor in the long history of the Godzilla franchise.[4] At the time, Toho's visual effects director, Eiji Tsuburaya considered him completely invaluable,[4] and he was employed to essay the roles of most of the kaiju (Japanese monsters) during his career as a suit actor. After 24 years, he retired from suit acting upon completion of Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), when the studio cycled him out of their contract actor system, after it split into several subsidiaries in 1970. He stayed employed by Toho for several years, and was reportedly transferred to a job at its bowling alley, located on the now defunct studio lot.[5][6][7]

Beginning in the late 1990s, Nakajima made a series of personal appearances at various Japanese monster-themed conventions. He appeared at the Monsterpalooza convention in Burbank, California in April 2011.[8] His Japanese-language autobiography, 『怪獣人生 元祖ゴジラ俳優・中島春雄』 (Monster Life: Haruo Nakajima, the Original Godzilla Actor), was released in 2010.[9][10]

Death[edit]

On August 7, 2017, several media outlets reported that Nakajima had died, at the age of 88.[10][11][12] The following day, on August 8, his daughter Sonoe Nakajima confirmed that he had died of pneumonia.[2] In 2018, asteroid 110408 Nakajima was named in his memory.

Selected filmography[edit]

Nakajima (second from left) on the set of Godzilla Raids Again, 1955

Films[edit]

Year Title Notes
1952 Sword for Hire First credited role in a film.[1]
1953 Eagle of the Pacific Acting role.[10]
1954 Seven Samurai Portrayed a bandit.[2]
1954 Godzilla Portrayed Godzilla.[10]
1954 The Invisible Avenger Acting role.[13]
1955 Godzilla Raids Again Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1956 Rodan Portrayed Rodan.[13][14]
1957 The Mysterians Portrayed Moguera.[13]
1958 The H-Man Portrayed a sailor.[14]
1958 Varan the Unbelievable Portrayed Varan.[13]
1958 The Hidden Fortress Acting role.[13]
1960 The Human Vapor Acting role.[13]
1961 The Story of Osaka Castle Acting role.[3]
1961 Yojimbo Acting role.[13]
1961 Mothra Portrayed the larval form of Mothra.[14][15]
1962 Gorath Portrayed Maguma.
1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1963 Matango Acting role.[13]
1963 Atragon Acting role.[13]
1964 Mothra vs. Godzilla Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1964 Dogora Acting role.[13]
1964 Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1965 Frankenstein Conquers the World Portrayed Baragon.[13][14]
1965 Invasion of Astro-Monster Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1966 The War of the Gargantuas Portrayed Gaira.[13][14]
1966 Ebirah, Horror of the Deep Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1967 King Kong Escapes Portrayed King Kong.[15]
1967 Son of Godzilla Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1968 Destroy All Monsters Portrayed Godzilla and Baragon.[12]
1969 Latitude Zero Acting role.[13]
1969 All Monsters Attack Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1970 Space Amoeba Portrayed various monster roles.[13]
1971 Godzilla vs. Hedorah Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1972 Godzilla vs. Gigan Portrayed Godzilla.[12]
1973 Tidal Wave Portrayed a chauffeur.[16]

Television[edit]

Year Title Notes
1966 Ultra Q Acting role.[13]
1966–67 Ultraman Portrayed various monster roles.[14]
1967–69 Ultra Seven Acting role, portrayed various monster roles.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Yuri Kageyama (August 8, 2017). "Original Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima dies". BBC News. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "Haruo Nakajima, who played the original 1954 Godzilla, dies". Associated Press. August 8, 2017. Archived from the original on August 8, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Galbraith IV, Stuart (16 May 2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0810860049. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Ryfle, Steve (1998). Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G". ECW Press. pp. 179–180. ISBN 9781550223484. 
  5. ^ Russell Goldman (August 8, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, the First Actor to Play Godzilla, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  6. ^ Christos Tsirbas (August 7, 2017). "Original Godzilla Actor Haruo Nakajima Passes Away". CBR.com. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  7. ^ Merrit Kennedy (August 8, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, The Original Godzilla Actor, Dies". NPR.org. National Public Radio. Retrieved August 9, 2017. 
  8. ^ Ryan Scott (August 7, 2017). "Original Godzilla Man-In-Suit Actor Haruo Nakajima Dies at 88". MovieWeb. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  9. ^ David Moyes (August 7, 2017). "Original Godzilla Actor Haruo Nakajima Dead At 88". HuffPost. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c d Nyren, Erin (August 7, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, Man Inside Godzilla Suit, Dies at 88". Variety. Retrieved August 7, 2017. 
  11. ^ Katie Rife (August 7, 2017). "R.I.P. Haruo Nakajima, the original man in the Godzilla suit". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l John Squires (August 7, 2017). "R.I.P. Original 'Godzilla' Suit Actor Haruo Nakajima". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Daniel Baldwin (August 7, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima (1929–2017), the Man Who Was Godzilla". Cinema Runner. Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Kyle Anderson (August 7, 2017). "Haruo Nakajimi, First Actor to Play GODZILLA, Has Died at 88". Nerdist Industries. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  15. ^ a b Gwilym Mumford (August 8, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, actor who played the original Godzilla, dies aged 88". The Guardian. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  16. ^ Kate Feldman (August 8, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, original Godzilla actor, dead at 88". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 

External links[edit]