Haruo Nakajima (Japanese: 中島 春雄, Hepburn: Nakajima Haruo, January 1, 1929 – August 7, 2017)[2] was a Japanese actor and stunt performer. A pioneer of suit acting, he is best known for playing Godzilla in 12 consecutive films, starting from the original Godzilla (1954) until Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972). Nakajima also played various other kaiju in Toho's tokusatsu films, including: Rodan (1956), Mothra (1961) and The War of the Gargantuas (1966) and also appeared in a minor role in Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954).

Haruo Nakajima
中島 春雄
Nakajima in 2013
Born(1929-01-01)January 1, 1929
DiedAugust 7, 2017(2017-08-07) (aged 88)
Tokyo, Japan
  • Actor
  • suit actor
  • stunt performer
Years active1949–1973
Known forPortraying Godzilla
ChildrenSonoe Nakajima

Career Edit

Suit fitting on the set of Godzilla Raids Again (1955), Nakajima (second from left) and Katsumi Tezuka as Anguirus's suit actor on the right. Visible in the background is a destructible scale model of Osaka Castle, scaled to fit the intended height of the two monsters.

Nakajima was born in Yamagata. His first credited role in a motion picture was in the 1952 film Sword for Hire.[2] He began his career as a stunt actor in samurai films and he acted in a small role in the 1954 film Seven Samurai, portraying a bandit slain by master swordsman Kyūzo (Seiji Miyaguchi).[2][3][4]

He was considered by many to be the best suit actor in the long history of the Godzilla franchise.[1] At the time, Toho's special effects director, Eiji Tsuburaya considered him completely invaluable,[1] and he was employed to essay the roles of most of the kaiju (Japanese monsters) during his career as a suit actor.

Before shooting began for the first Godzilla movie, in 1954, Nakajima said he spent a week at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, where he studied the motion of elephants and bears. He said he threw a piece of bread at the bears to see how they moved to catch it. He also studied the heavy, ponderous gait of the elephants. "When elephants walk, they never show the bottom of their feet," he said. When filming began, he said the original suit weighed 100 kilograms and required two men to help him put it on. "How can I act in this thing?" Nakajima said he asked himself. He eventually mastered the suit, and went on to teach the other suit actors who came after him.[5]

After 24 years, Nakajima retired from suit acting upon completion of Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), when the studio cycled him out of their contract actor system, after it split into several subsidiaries in 1970. He stayed employed by Toho for several years, and was reportedly transferred to a job at its bowling alley, located on the now defunct studio lot.[6][7][8]

Beginning in the late 1990s, Nakajima made a series of personal appearances at various Japanese monster-themed conventions. He appeared at the Monsterpalooza convention in Burbank, California in April 2011.[9] His Japanese-language autobiography, 『怪獣人生 元祖ゴジラ俳優・中島春雄』 (Monster Life: Haruo Nakajima, the Original Godzilla Actor), was released in 2010.[10][11]

Death Edit

On August 7, 2017, several media outlets reported that Nakajima had died, at the age of 88.[11][12][13] The following day, on August 8, his daughter Sonoe Nakajima confirmed that he had died of pneumonia.[3] In 2018, asteroid 110408 Nakajima was named in his honour. The film Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) was dedicated to his memory.

Filmography Edit

Film Edit

Year Title Notes Ref(s)
1949 Stray Dog Acting role (deleted scene) [14]
1952 Sword for Hire First credited role in a film [2]
1953 Eagle of the Pacific Acting role [11]
1954 Seven Samurai Bandit [3]
1954 Godzilla Godzilla [11]
1954 The Invisible Avenger Acting role [15]
1955 Godzilla Raids Again Godzilla [13]
1956 Rodan Rodan [15][16]
1957 The Mysterians Moguera [15]
1958 The H-Man Sailor [16]
1958 Varan the Unbelievable Varan [15]
1958 The Hidden Fortress Acting role [15]
1960 The Human Vapor Acting role [15]
1961 The Story of Osaka Castle Acting role [4]
1961 Yojimbo Acting role [15]
1961 Mothra Mothra (caterpillar) [16][17]
1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla Godzilla [13]
1963 Matango Acting role [15]
1963 Atragon Acting role [15]
1964 Mothra vs. Godzilla Godzilla [13]
1964 Dogora Acting role [15]
1964 Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster Godzilla [13]
1965 Frankenstein vs. Baragon Baragon [15][16]
1965 Invasion of Astro-Monster Godzilla [13]
1966 The War of the Gargantuas Gaira [15][16]
1966 Ebirah, Horror of the Deep Godzilla [13]
1967 King Kong Escapes King Kong [17]
1967 Son of Godzilla Godzilla [13]
1968 Destroy All Monsters Godzilla, Baragon [13]
1969 Latitude Zero Acting role [15]
1969 All Monsters Attack Godzilla [13]
1970 Space Amoeba Gezora, Ganimes [15]
1971 Godzilla vs. Hedorah Godzilla [13]
1972 Godzilla vs. Gigan Godzilla [13]
1973 Tidal Wave Chauffeur [18]

Television Edit

Year Title Notes Ref(s)
1966 Ultra Q Acting role, Gomess, Pagos [15]
1966–1967 Ultraman Neronga, Gabora, Jirahs, Kemur II, Keylla. [16]
1967–1968 Ultraseven Acting role, U-Tom. [15]
1970 Chibira-kun Gebagoro [citation needed]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c Ryfle, Steve (1998). Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G". ECW Press. pp. 178–180. ISBN 9781550223484.
  2. ^ a b c d Yuri Kageyama (August 8, 2017). "Original Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima dies". BBC News. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Haruo Nakajima, who played the original 1954 Godzilla, dies". Associated Press. August 8, 2017. Archived from the original on August 8, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Galbraith IV, Stuart (16 May 2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0810860049. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  5. ^ Fackler, Martin (September 1, 2013). "Rubber Suit Monsters Fade! Tiny Tokyos Relax!". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  6. ^ Russell Goldman (August 8, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, the First Actor to Play Godzilla, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  7. ^ Christos Tsirbas (August 7, 2017). "Original Godzilla Actor Haruo Nakajima Passes Away". CBR.com. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  8. ^ Merrit Kennedy (August 8, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, The Original Godzilla Actor, Dies". NPR.org. National Public Radio. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  9. ^ Ryan Scott (August 7, 2017). "Original Godzilla Man-In-Suit Actor Haruo Nakajima Dies at 88". MovieWeb. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  10. ^ David Moyes (August 7, 2017). "Original Godzilla Actor Haruo Nakajima Dead At 88". HuffPost. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d Nyren, Erin (August 7, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, Man Inside Godzilla Suit, Dies at 88". Variety. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  12. ^ Katie Rife (August 7, 2017). "R.I.P. Haruo Nakajima, the original man in the Godzilla suit". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l John Squires (August 7, 2017). "R.I.P. Original 'Godzilla' Suit Actor Haruo Nakajima". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  14. ^ Nakamura, Tetsu (November 2, 2015). "【俺とゴジラ】第四回 ゴジラ俳優 中島春雄氏(後編)/ゴジラ・ストア". GODZILLA STORE. Archived from the original on June 8, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Daniel Baldwin (August 7, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima (1929–2017), the Man Who Was Godzilla". Cinema Runner. Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Kyle Anderson (August 7, 2017). "Haruo Nakajimi, First Actor to Play GODZILLA, Has Died at 88". Nerdist Industries. Archived from the original on October 11, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  17. ^ a b Gwilym Mumford (August 8, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, actor who played the original Godzilla, dies aged 88". The Guardian. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  18. ^ Kate Feldman (August 8, 2017). "Haruo Nakajima, original Godzilla actor, dead at 88". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 8, 2017.

External links Edit