We’ve lost a major part of our Kaiju heritage today, as Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla actor, has passed at the age of 88.
Many of you probably know exactly who this man was, while just as many probably didn’t know they knew him. In 1954, researched animal movement, donned a costume made of ready-mix concrete, and became Godzilla! Afterwards, he became the go-to guy for Toho’s monster movies starring in various films as Rodan, Frankenstein vs Baragon, and The War of the Gargantuas.
He would also go on to don the Godzilla suit eleven more times, making him the monster’s main actor for 12 of the 15 movies in Godzilla’s Showa era, including Godzilla vs King Kong, Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster, Destroy All Monsters, and Godzilla vs Gigan (my personal favorite).
Even after hanging up the suit, Haruo continued going to monster conventions, and he gave an interview just last year where he talked about some of his memories of playing the classic monster.
It’s fair to say that fans of the Kaiju/Giant Monster movies owe this man a huge debt of gratitude. Without him, we likely wouldn’t have been able to enjoy such classics as Reptilicus, and Gamera nor modern monsters in Cloverfield and Pacific Rim who drew their inspiration from Godzilla’s past. It’s also likely that without the hard work Haruo put into making Godzilla seem real, the franchise might not have gone as far as it has, if it had even gotten off the ground at all.
As a huge fan of giant monster movies, including all the original Godzilla’s which I STILL have on VHS, I just want to say thank you, Haruo Nakajima. With the next few years bringing a whole slew of Kaiju movies including Legendary’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Pacific Rim: Uprising, his legacy will live on.