by Emily Reuben
On Monday August 7th the man who wore the Godzilla suit in the 1954 original film, Haruo Nakajima, died of pneumonia at the age of 88.
Nakajima was born in Yamagata, Japan on January 1, 1929. Nakajima began his career as a stuntman and was first credited in the 1952 film Sword for Hire. Notably, Nakajima played a small role of a bandit in the famous Japanese film Seven Samurai. Releasing in the same year as Seven Samurai, Godzilla’s director, Ishiro Honda, cast Nakajima to wear the iconic Godzilla monster suit, which he played for 12 consecutive films. Not only did Nakajima wear the infamous Godzilla suit, he also wore many of the other Toho kaiju (literally translating to mean “strange beasts”) suits. After the release of Godzilla vs. Gigan in 1972, Nakajima retired and worked at a bowling alley located on the Toho lot.
During the 90s, Nakajima began traveling abroad to make various appearances at conventions related to monster genre in Chicago, New Jersey, New York City and Hollywood. In July of 2010, Nakajima released his autobiography Monster Life: Haruo Nakajima.
Since its first iteration, the Godzilla series has become an iconic franchise worldwide, spawning 32 Toho titles, 8 American productions, various game adaptions, and a book series.