Actor Inside Godzilla Suit, Haruo Nakajima, Dies at 88

Haruo Nakajima made his debut as Godzilla in the first movie in the series 63 years ago.

Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

TOKYO – Haruo Nakajima, the Japanese actor who wore the Godzilla suit for about two decades from the monster movie series’ original, died of pneumonia on Monday, his daughter, Sonoe, said Tuesday. He was 88.

A native of Yamagata Prefecture, Nakajima aspired to become a movie actor as a teenager shortly after the end of World War II and played stunts in a number of movies in his early career. His first credited role was in Hiroshi Inagaki’s “Sword for Hire” (1952). He appeared in three of director Akira Kurosawa’s best-known films — “Seven Samurai” (1954), “The Hidden Fortress” (1958) and “Yojimbo” (1961).

Nakajima’s fire stunt performance as a warplane pilot in Ishiro Honda’s “Eagle of the Pacific” (1953) led to him getting the role of Godzilla the following year when the first of the series featuring the monster, also directed by Honda, was released.