Sunday, May 2, 2010

Deathday: George Pal 1908-1980 Science Fiction Animator

George Pal (February 1, 1908 – May 2, 1980), born György Pál Marincsák, was a Hungarian-born American animator and film producer, principally associated with the science fiction genre. He became an American citizen after emigrating from Europe.

He was born in Cegléd, Austria–Hungary, the son of George Pál Sr. and his wife Maria. He graduated from the Budapest Academy of Arts in 1928. From 1928 to 1931, he made films for Hunnia Films of Budapest, Hungary.

In 1931 he married Elisabeth "Zsoka" Grandjean, and moving to Berlin, founded Trickfilm-Studio Gmbh Pal und Wittke, with the UFA Studios as its main customer from 1931 to 1933. During this time, he patented Pal-Doll (known as Puppetoons in the USA).

In 1933 he worked in Prague; in 1934, he made a film advertisement in his hotel room in Paris, and was invited by Philips to make two more ad shorts. He started to use Pal-Doll techniques in Eindhoven, in a former butchery, then at villa-studio Suny Home.

He made five films before 1939 for the British company Horlicks Malted Milk. He left Germany as the Nazis came to power. In 1940, he emigrated from Europe, and began work for Paramount Pictures At this time, his friend Walter Lantz helped him obtain American citizenship.

As an animator, he made the Puppetoons series in the 1940s, then switched to live action filmmaking with The Great Rupert in 1950. He was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1944 for "the development of novel methods and techniques in the production of short subjects known as Puppetoons."

He is best remembered as the producer of landmark science fiction films in the 1950s and 1960s, four of which were collaborations with director Byron Haskin. His background with the whimsical Puppetoons set the foundation for the imaginative production designs for his films during this period.

He died in Beverly Hills, California of a heart attack at the age of 72, and was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.

"The Voyage of the Berg," on which he was working at the time, was never completed.

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1722 Vine St. In 1980 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences founded the "George Pal Lecture on Fantasy in Film" series in his memory.

Live action feature films

The Great Rupert (1950) (producer)
Destination Moon (1950) (producer) (Oscar: Special Effects 1950)
When Worlds Collide (1951) (producer) (Oscar: Special Effects 1951)
The War of the Worlds (1953) (producer; directed by Haskin) (Oscar: Best Special Effects 1953)
Houdini (Tony Curtis version) (1953) (producer)
The Naked Jungle (with Charlton Heston) (1954) (producer; directed by Haskin)
Conquest of Space (1955) (producer; directed by Haskin)
tom thumb (1958) (producer–director) (Oscar: Best Special Effects 1958)
The Time Machine (1960) (producer–director & "Morlock" designer) (Oscar: Best Special Effects 1960)
Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961) (producer–director)
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962) (producer–director)(Cinerama Production) (Oscar: Best Costume Design 1962)
7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) (producer–director) (Oscar: Makeup Honorary Award 1964 - first film to receive this award)
The Power (with Michael Rennie) (1968) (producer; directed by Haskin)
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975) (producer).

Unreleased, unfinished, or projected films

The Puppetoon Revue of 1933 (1933) /MGMs' tenth color talkie /
After Worlds Collide (1955)
Odd John (1967) (rights acquired only)
Logan's Run (1968)
When the Sleeper Wakes (1972)
War of the Worlds (~1974-75) Unfinished TV pilot
Doc Savage: The Arch Enemy of Evil (1976)
The Time Traveller (1977-78) aka Time Machine II
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1979)
The Disappearance (1980) (only in preproduction)
Voyage of the Berg (1980) (only in preproduction) *The King of Kings (1989) (began 1939, resumed 1987)
Gail Morgan Hickman. The Films of George Pal (South Brunswick, NJ: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1977)


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