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Remembering Gerry Anderson

In a week when some more familiar celebrities passed away — Jack Klugman and Charles Durning were certainly more famous — it might get lost in the general press that Gerry Anderson died Wednesday at the age of 83. But for some of us, if he wasn’t exactly a superstar, he had a pretty big impact, creating some of the most memorable and enduring shows of our childhood, namely:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFb4IVLXDss?rel=0&w=615&h=461]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7FqfR2-jjY?rel=0&w=615&h=461]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nck5Qcwq7fU?rel=0&w=615&h=346]

“Thunderbirds are go!” They sure were.

Today, Supermarionation looks cheesy, but to a kid growing up in the ’60s… okay, it still looked cheesy, though like a better, lip-synced, no-hands-visible version of when we played with action figures ourselves. But Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5 were like Intro to Action and Sci-Fi 101 for generations, and Thunderbirds even had a proto-nerd in Brains, the stammering, glasses-wearing gerry_andersongenius. Plus, of course, there was the lovely Lady Penelope, “London Agent.” The Thunderbirds were an international rescue squad (the Tracy boys all had the same names as real astronauts) and Fireball XL5, with Col. Steve Zodiac at the bridge accompanied by Dr. Venus, was part of the World Space Patrol. Star Trek (and Anderson’s own Space: 1999) came later; for a lot of kids, the herky-jerky marionettes of Gerry Anderson, seen early on Saturday mornings in blurry black-and-white, were their introduction to a genre.

I trust the flags on Tracy Island are flying at half-staff today.

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7 comments

  • Thunderbirds was one of the few interests my dad & I shared when I was a kid. Such a shame to hear Anderson died (& after living with alzheimers for the remaining few years) RIP.

  • I only recently came to know his work. Even at 40 I found the quality and imagination worthy of high praise. The time that must have gone into those projects boggles my mind. I hope he’s wearing a bearded disguise as he’s laid to rest.

  • I loved, loved the Thunderbirds when I was a kid. The explosions, the rockets, the explosions it was all so damn cool when I six and seven years old. My he rest in peace, Mr. Anderson brought sheer joy to this kid.

  • Not only did everything that Gerry Anderson brought us was cool / clever, but he was surrounded by major talent (matte artists, special effects artists, miniature artists, etc) who went on to major award winning fame via the Star Wars / Superman FIlms from the late 70s to early 80s …

    His work will live on forever not only via “SuperMarionation” but also via “Live Action” (this is one proud Nerd who still <3's watching UFO (1970) as well as the film FAR SIDE FROM THE SUN (1969) ….

    Gerry Anderson – Jack Klugman – Charles Durning (& Guitarist Mike Scaccia (Ministry, RevCo, Rigor Mortis) what a moribund way to end 2012 …

  • In retrospect, I think Supermarionation is incredibly cool. The marionettes themselves are the only cheesy thing about it; when I see those old shows, I’m overwhelmed by that great 007-esque 60′s style, because the production design is so amazing. Maybe it’s just the ol’ tabletop miniature builder in me, but give me a show full of nothing but miniatures, and I’m totally engrossed.

    In a way, Thunderbirds represents the pinnacle in practical effects, because literally every shot is a practical effect.