Petro Vlahos


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Petro Vlahos, a two-time Academy Award winner whose blue- and green-screen technique on movies like "Mary Poppins" and "Ben Hur" made the modern blockbuster possible, has died. He was 96.

His family said Vlahos died on Feb. 10, according to The Los Angeles Times. The Hollywood Reporter said Vlahos' company, Ultimatte, also announced the death. No details were released.

The night before his death, an ailing Vlahos was on the minds of many at the Scientific and Technical Oscars ceremony, where he'd been a constant presence through the years and where his acolytes in so-called "composite photography" took home most of the trophies.

"He created the whole of composite photography as we know it at this time," visual effects supervisor and one of the night's top winners Bill Taylor said of Vlahos, drawing a line from his early work to recent technical marvels like "Life of Pi." ''Whenever you see Mary Poppins dancing with penguin s, when you see Pi in a boat in the middle of the ocean ... you are seeing ... Vlahos' genius at work.""

Others had tried "composite photography" before, combining separately filmed actors and sets into one shot, but the results had been spotty, and actors often appeared with a halo of light around them that killed the effect.

Vlahos took huge leaps forward in the process with the chariot race in the 1959 Charlton Heston epic "Ben Hur" and in Julie Andrews' and Dick Van Dyke's romp through a chalk-drawing wonderland in 1964's "Mary Poppins."

He kept up his partnership with Disney in effects-heavy films like 1969's "The Love Bug" and 1971's "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."

When in subsequent decades science-fiction and fantasy films became dominant at the box office, Vlahos' techniques became dominant in filmmaking, essential to movies like "Avatar" and to every film in the "Star Wars" saga.

He and his collaborators won an Academy Award for their compo site processes in 1965, and he and his son Paul Vlahos shared another Oscar in 1995 for the blue-screen advances made by Ultimatte.

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We were shocked to learn of Pete's passing. He was one of the kindest and most intelligent people we have ever known. Dearest Virginia, I don't know how to get in touch with you but you know if we had known we would have been there for you. Everyday I look over at your house here in Rainbow Acres and miss you terribly. We love miss you very much.

May your memory be eternal

A Name is better than good old Ecclesiastics 7:1 Linda Greene.

Thank you, Petro Vlahos, for giving to all of humanity what no one else could; our ability to view the impossible in such a way as to make the filmed performance feel real and genuine. Everyone lives a different life, but everyone enjoys a respite from the challenges of life through entertainment. The world of entertainment through film could never have reached the level enjoyed today without Petro Vlahos. His life changed the world. He will be greatly missed but his legacy will live on...

pete and virgina were most gracious host .pete was a joy to talk to and camp out with .he will be missed.
gerald and carol smith camarillo


The God of comfort and the Father of tender mercies is their for us all.

To the Vlahos's Family,
God stated:"I-I myself am the One that is comforting you people."(Isaiah 51:12) Yes, God "cares for you."1 Pet.5:7

Sorry for your loss.