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Haruo Nakajima (1929 – 2017)

by Kirk Fox

Japanese actor played legendary monster Godzilla in the original and 11 sequels.

Haruo Nakajima, the Japanese actor who played legendary movie monster Godzilla in 12 films, died Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, according to multiple news sources. He was 88.

Nakajima is considered by many to be the best suit actor in the history of the Godzilla movie franchise.


The actor’s first role was in the 1952 movie “Sword for Hire.” He then appeared in the classic Akira Kurosawa film, “Seven Samurai,” in 1954.

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That same year, he played Godzilla in the first Godzilla movie, “Godzilla.” He went on to play the iconic monster in 11 sequels. He also played other beasts including Rodan, Mothra, and King Kong.

Nakajima’s last appearance as Godzilla was in the 1972 movie, “Godzilla vs. Gigan.” He then retired from suit acting.

Nakajima was a fan favorite at numerous monster-movie conventions. He appeared at conventions across America including the Monsterpalooza Horror Convention in Pasadena, California. He also appeared at conventions in Chicago, New York City, and Hollywood.

In a recent interview for the web series “Great Big Story,” Nakajima explained how he researched for the role of Godzilla.

“I couldn’t understand what this monster was, so I went to the zoo to do some research,” he said. “Since it is so big, I thought I should study big animals, like elephants and gorillas.”

Nakajima told “Great Big Story” he was proud of his role as Godzilla.

“In the end, the Godzilla I played remains on film forever,” he said. “It remains in people’s memory, and for that I feel really grateful.”

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