In 1954, Toho Studios turned Haruo Nakajima into a monster. Nakajima was the first actor to portray Gojira, or Godzilla, in a movie. He made the role his own, appearing as the giant reptile in 12 films. That wasn’t his only role in monster movies.
In addition to Godzilla, Nakajima also portrayed monsters in Rodan, Mothra, The H-Man, and Frankenstein Conquers the World, and The War of the Gargantuas, as well as the Tsuburaya-produced series Ultraman: A Special Effects Fantasy Series. Simply, if you’ve seen a kaiju movie made before 1973, you’ve seen phenomenal and iconic work of Haruo Nakajima. He’s a legend.
As an actor and stuntman, Nakajima was also seen in movies such as Seven Samurai, Eagle of the Pacific, and Sword for Hire. We posted an interview with Nakajima just a few months ago. Toho studios announced that Nakajima died on Monday. He was 88.