Carlo Rambaldi

For the Italian painter of the Baroque period, see Carlo Antonio Rambaldi.
Carlo Rambaldi

Carlo Rambaldi in 2010
Born (1925-09-15)September 15, 1925
Vigarano Mainarda, Italy
Died August 10, 2012(2012-08-10) (aged 86)
Lamezia Terme, Italy
Nationality Italian
Citizenship Italian citizen
Education Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna[1]
Occupation Special effects
Visual effects
Notable work King Kong (1976)
Alien (1979)
E.T. (1982)
Spouse(s) Bruna Basso[2]
Children Vittorio[2]
one daughter[2]
Awards 3 Oscars
Academy Awards Special Achievement Award
Saturn Award
BAFTA Film Award (nominated)
David di Donatello Special
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Special
Los Angeles Italian Film Awards Outstanding Achievement Award
Mystfest Special
Razzie Award (nominated)

Carlo Rambaldi (September 15, 1925 – August 10, 2012) was an Italian special effects artist, winner of three Oscars: one Special Achievement Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1977 for the 1976 version of King Kong[3] and two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects in 1980 and 1983 for, respectively, Alien[4] (1979) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial[5] (1982). He is most famous for his work in those two last mentioned films, that is for the mechanical head-effects for the creature in Alien and the design of the title character of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Early life

Carlo Rambaldi was born September 15 1925 in Vigarano Mainarda, Emilia-Romagna.[6] He studied painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna, where he developed a passion for electromechanics and the skeleton and musculature of the human body. He was heavily influenced by the work of Picasso and the Italian artist Renato Guttuso.[2]


Rambaldi's first work in film was creating a fire-breathing dragon for the 1957 Italian picture Sigfrido[2] (titled in the English version as The Dragon's Blood).

In 1963 he became a full-time special effects artist. He worked with Italian directors including Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mario Monicelli and Dario Argento.[2] Some films he worked on included Medusa vs the Son of Hercules (1962), Bloody Pit of Horror (1965), Planet of the Vampires (1965), Hercules and the Princess of Troy (1965), L'Odissea (1968, a TV miniseries), A Bay of Blood (1972), The Night of the Devils (1972), Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (1974), Andy Warhol's Dracula (1974), Deep Red (Profondo Rosso, 1975), King Kong (1976), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Alien (1979), Nightwing (1979), Possession (1981), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Dune (1984), Conan the Destroyer (1984), Silver Bullet (1985), King Kong Lives (1986) or Cameron's Closet (1988), among others.

Rambaldi had the distinction of being the first special effects artist to be required to prove that his work on a film was not 'real'. Dog-mutilation scenes in the 1971 film A Lizard in a Woman's Skin were so convincingly visceral that its director, Lucio Fulci, was prosecuted for offenses relating to animal cruelty. Fulci would have served a two-year prison sentence, had Rambaldi not exhibited the film's array of props to a courtroom, proving that the scene was not filmed using real animals.[7][8]

Rambaldi's last screen credit was on the 1988 horror film Primal Rag, directed by his son Vittorio. When computer-generated special effects became common place, Rambaldi complained, "Any kid with a computer can reproduce the special effects seen in today’s movies. The mystery's gone. The curiosity that viewers once felt when they saw special effects has disappeared. It's as if a magician had revealed all of his tricks... There’s no question that these computer films are well packaged but the charm has disappeared... If Spielberg were to film E.T. today using the latest technology I'm not sure it would be a hit because the techniques they’re using at the moment couldn't reproduce the tender expression of ET's eyes, for example. The secret of creating what technology is unable to express lies in the work of the artisan, who is able to develop characteristics that touch our deepest emotions."[2]

Personal life and death

Carlo Rambaldi married Bruna Basso, with whom he had a son, Vittorio, and a daughter.[2]

Rambaldi died on August 10, 2012 in Lamezia Terme, Calabria, where he had lived for many years.[6]

Academy Awards

One Special Achievement Academy Award

Two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects

Other awards

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

Saturn Awards

MystFest Awards

Los Angeles Italian Film Awards

David di Donatello Awards


  1. MystFest is the commonly used abbreviation for the "International Mystery Film Festival of Cattolica", in Italian "Festival internazionale del giallo e del mistero di Cattolica"


  1. Studying art at the Fine Arts Academy of Bologna
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Obituaries: Carlo Rambaldi". The Daily Telegraph. October 5, 2012
  3. 49th Academy Awards (Monday, March 28, 1977), official lists of winners and nominees in the website
  4. 52nd Academy Awards (Monday, April 14, 1980), official lists of winners and nominees in the website
  5. 55th Academy Awards (Monday, April 11, 1983), official lists of winners and nominees in the website
  6. 1 2 (Italian) Assante, Ernesto (August 10, 2012). "Addio a Carlo Rambaldi il creatore di E.T. e Alien". la Repubblica
  7. Wickman, Forrest (August 13, 2012). "R.I.P. Carlo Rambaldi, Creator of E.T." Slate.
  8. Davis, Lauren (October 28, 2012). "5 horror movies so gruesome, the makers were investigated for cruelty and murder". io9.

External links

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