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"A special effect is as big a star as any in the world."

Hungarian-American director and producer (1908-1980). Born the son of entertainers in Cegled, Austria-Hungary, he graduated from the Budapest Academy of the Arts and worked at Hunnia Films in Budapest before being put in charge of the cartoon department at Berlin's UFA Studios.

Pal left Germany in 1933 after the Nazis came to power and spent the next several years making movies and animated commercials throughout Europe. He and his family moved to New York City in 1939 and was offered a contract at Paramount to produce Puppetoons, a process Pal had created for a series of commercials in Europe that combined animation with puppetry. Pal created more than 40 Puppetoons from 1941 to 1947 and received a special Oscar for them in 1943. While producing the Puppetoons, he worked with special effects gurus like Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen.

He gave up the series in the '50s to work on live action science fiction and fantasy films, usually producing and sometimes producing and directing. He produced "The Great Rupert", "Destination Moon", "When Worlds Collide", "Houdini", "The War of the Worlds", "The Naked Jungle", "Conquest of Space", "tom thumb" (yes, lower case--and he directed it, too), "The Time Machine" (which he also directed), "Atlantis, the Lost Continent" (directed this one, too), "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" (another stint in the director's chair), "7 Faces of Dr. Lao" (his last directing job), "The Power", and "Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze." Pal won special effects Oscars for "Destination Moon", "When Worlds Collide", "The War of the Worlds", "tom thumb", and "The Time Machine." And he even used his Puppetoon techniques for sequences in "tom thumb" and "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm."

Obviously, special effects were always important to Pal, and he always tried to include the very latest and most state-of-the-art effects in his movies. I suspect that part of it was just a matter of good branding and showmanship--"Another Extravaganza from the Mind of George Pal! Featuring the Most Astounding Special Effects Ever Committed to Film!"--but I also think a lot of it was just a love of special effects, makeup, and the gadgets and gizmos of film effects wizardry.

Pal died in Los Angeles in 1980 of a heart attack, leaving behind a number of unrealized projects, including sequels to "The Time Machine", "When Worlds Collide", and "Doc Savage." He was the subject of a 1986 documentary called "The Fantasy Film World of George Pal."

For no reason I can tell, many of his movies included a brief appearance at some point from one of the cartoon characters from the Walter Lantz Studios, usually Woody Woodpecker.

Research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)

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