A Chat With Ray Harryhausen
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Roger: I've got a list here -- Miss Muffet --

Ray: Little Miss Muffet, that's part of the Mother Goose stories. Little Miss Muffet, Old Mother Hubbard, Queen of Hearts, and Humpty Dumpty are all in the Mother Goose stories. Then I made Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, and The Story of King Midas. They were all made in my garage. They were complete stories, ten minutes each, with a beginning, middle, and an end.

A scene from Harryhausen's early Little Red Riding Hood film. © Animation Art Gallery London.

Roger: What did you do while you were in the army? I saw that there was a film about bridge building.

Ray: I was working with George Pal when the war came along, and I thought that I'd like to get into something that I'm capable of doing, so I made this thing, a three minute short, of building a bridge. I was going to Columbia Pictures and Eastman Kodak had a class going for cameramen. I signed up to be a field cameraman. I showed this film to my professor and he showed it to Frank Capra. When I had a meeting with Capra and Colonel Lipvark they were just forming this SCPC, the Special Service division. I worked on some of the "Why We Fight" series during the war, then we made Nuts and Bolts. I also acted as an assistant cameraman. And then I worked on Snafu, with Ted Geisel, Dr. Seuss. He was in charge of the Snafu character.

Roger: Did some of these films that you've mentioned have puppet characters?

Ray: No, Snafu was a flatbed cartoon, but I made three or four statues for the Yank magazine covers.

Roger: Did the bridge building film have characters in it?

Ray: No, it was just toys I bought in the five and dime store.

Roger: What brought you to Willis O'Brien's attention? How did he find out about you when you started working on Mighty Joe Young?

Ray: Well, I'd known Willis O' Brien since high school. I'd contacted him after King Kong. He invited me down to his studio at MGM and I brought some of my dinosaurs in a suitcase. There weren't many people interested in that type of thing at that time, so I was rather unique, I guess. And then I showed him my puppet films over the years, we kept in touch, and he showed them to Merian Cooper, and I got to be his assistant.

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