Mechanical effects expert ‘ET’ is 76 years old – The Hollywood Reporter

Isidoro Raponi, renowned mechanical effects specialist who designed, built, and operated the ET for the 1982 Steven Spielberg classic and worked on other films such as King Kong, Aliens and Close encounters of the third type, has died. He was 76 years old.

Raponi died Friday of congestive heart failure at a rehabilitation facility in Los Angeles, a Disney journalist announced.

Raponi also created various dinosaurs seen in Disney’s Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (In 1985). Creatures from that movie range from the young title (a performer inside a rubber costume that uses a remote control to perform its expressions and movements) to an animated Brontosaurus. The machine is 70 feet long and 25 feet wide.

Raponi also collaborated with Martin Scorsese on New york gang (2002) and Aviator (2004) and with Frank Darabont on The Green Mile (1999) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and handling effects and props for Running Man (1987), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Godfather: Part III (1990), Air Force One (1997), Dr. Doolittle (1998) and Egyptian Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon King (2008), among many others.

Born on June 30, 1945, in Frosinone, Italy, Raponi was an apprentice to future Oscar-winning effects creator Carlo Rambaldi, whose studio was across the street from the Raponi family’s bookstore.

Raponi was just 18 years old when he was hired by Rambaldi in 1963, and over the next 15 years he contributed to many popular Italian films.

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Isidoro Raponi shared a moment with the Brontosaurus he created for ‘Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend.’
Courtesy of Walt Disney Co.

Raponi moved to Los Angeles in 1975 to work on producer Dino De Laurentiis’ 1976 remake. King Kong, Rambaldi received a special achievement award at the Oscars. He then helped Rambaldi win an Oscar for Alien (1979) and ET the Extra-Terrestrial.

Efforts on his own, Raponi made his way to Walt Disney Studios in the late 1970s, and he provided mechanical effects for films including My Science Project (1985), Tron (1982), Something evil comes from this way (1983) and Baby.

For Disney’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Something evil comes from this wayRaponi has built a series of mechanical stunt recipes to appear alongside dozens of real creatures.

He retired in 2008 but returned to take on one last assignment for Ben Affleck’s Argo (2012).

Survivors include his 40-year-old wife, Nina, and his daughter, Tiziana. His son, Daniel, died in 2007.

A celebration of life is being planned for July. Contributions can be made to the Daniel Raponi Memorial Scholarship Fund at California State University, Northridge here or at the CSUN Foundation, 18111 Nordhoff St. – Valera Hall 110, Northridge, CA 91330-8296.

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