Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Special Effects Wizard Harry Redmond Jr. Passes On

Harry Redmond Jr., a pioneer in motion picture special effects who worked on films from King Kong (1933) to The Bishop's Wife (1947), passed 23 May 2011 at the age of 101.

Harry Redmond Jr. was born on 15 October 1909 in Brooklyn, New York. His father was also a special effects pioneer, Harry Redmond Sr., who ran Metropolitan Studios in Long Island. In1926 Mr. Redmond Sr. and his family moved to California. It was not much later Harry Redmond Jr. entered the movie industry, starting out in the props department of RKO before moving into special effects.  His first credit for special effects was Chance in 1931.

In four years as a special effects expert at RKO, Mr. Redmond would work on such legendary films as The Most Dangerous Game (1932), King Kong (1933), Flying Down to Rio (1933), She (1935), Top Hat (1935), and Lost Horizon (1937). In 1937 Harry Redmond Jr. struck out on his own and worked on such films as The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), The Outlaw (1943), and The Princess and the Pirate (1944). During World War II Mr. Redmond built a studio for the Army Film Training Lab in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

Following World War II Harry Redmond Jr.  returned to Hollywood. He provided special effects for such films as A Night in Casablanca (1946), Angel on My Shoulder (1946), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), and The Bishop's Wife (1947). It was while working on Storm Over Tibet in 1947 that Mr. Redmand met writer and producer Ivan Tors. Mr. Redmond would provide the special effects for Ivan Tors' movies The Magnetic Monster (1953), Riders to the Stars (1954), Gog (1954), and Battle Taxi (1955). He would also provide special effects for Donovan's Brain (1953) and Sitting Bull (1954).

Harry Redmond Jr. would eventually move from movies to television. His first work for a television show would be on the series Dangerous Assignment in 1952. Afterwards he would provide special effects for Ivan Tors' shows Science Fiction Theatre and Sea Hunt. He would also provide effects for the show The Outer Limits. Mr. Redmond served as an associate producer on the TV series Ripcord and Daktari, as well as the movies Flipper (1963) and Clarence the Cross Eyed Lion (1965).

Harry Redmond Jr. was true pioneer in special effects. Indeed, he worked on some of the earliest "special effects extravaganzas" in the history of Hollywood. Many of the films on which he worked are not simply historic, but legendary: King Kong, The Lost Horizon, The Prisoner of Zenda, Angel on My Shoulder, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Bishop's Wife, and Donovan's Brain. While the budgets of the Ivan Tors' movies and TV shows on which Mr. Redmond worked were much lower than the classic feature films on which he had worked, one would not know it from the special effects. Even on a limited budget Mr. Redmond was able to create convincing and realistic special effects. In an age before computer generated imagery, Mr. Redmond was a true pioneer.

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