Isidoro Raponi, whose skills brought E.T., King Kong and more to life for millions of moviegoers, has died. He was 76 and died May 27 of congestive heart failure at a Los Angeles rehabilitation center, according to veteran Disney communications executive Howard Green, who described Raponi as “a great guy and an unsung hero”
Raponi’s specialty was as a mechanical effects expert. The art form, sometimes called practical or physical effects, includes the use of mechanized props, scenery, scale models and pyrotechnics.
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His biggest triumph in the sector was helping to design, build and operate E.T. for the 1982 Steven Spielberg film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. His résumé includes work on such other big films as King Kong, Alien, Close Encounters of the Third Kind., Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.
A native of Italy, Raponi moved to Los Angeles in 1975 to work on producer Dino De Laurentiis’ 1976 remake of King Kong, which received a Special Achievement Award at the Oscars.
He retired in 2008 but was lured back for one last assignment on Ben Affleck’s 2012 film, Argo — which went on to win the Best Oscar.
Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Nina; and his daughter, Tiziana. His son, Daniel, died in 2007.
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