Tom Cranham, a motion picture illustrator who contributed to the special effects on numerous features including “Jurassic Park,” “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and “Blade Runner,” died Nov. 19 of cancer in Houston, where he was seeking therapy. He was 63.
Born and reared in Los Angeles, Cranham served a tour of duty in the Air Force as a meteorologist before graduating from Art Center College of Design.
His break into film came with Irwin Allen’s production company, first at Fox and later at Warner Bros. Working with Allen, Cranham developed a strong reputation as a special effects illustrator on such TV productions as “Lost in Space,” “Land of the Giants” and “City Beneath the Sea,” and on the blockbuster disaster features “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972), “The Towering Inferno” (1974), and “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” (1979).
Cranham contributed to a multitude of features, telefilms and series including “True Lies,” “The River Wild,” “Ghost,” “Never Say Never Again,” “War and Remembrance” and “Battlestar Galactica.”
Cranham also worked as an illustrator/designer on major theme parks for Walt Disney Imagineering and MCA-Universal Studio Tours.
Cranham served as VP of the Motion Picture Illustrators and Matte Artists Guild Local Number 790 for some 18 years, resigning in 1996 due to his illness, and was a member of the art director branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
A longtime resident of Redondo Beach and Palos Verdes, Cranham is survived by his wife; a daughter, Gina Les Crater, a TV art director; a son; and a grandson.
Contributions in Cranham’s name may be made to the scholarship funds at either the Art Center College of Design, American Film Institute, California Institute of the Arts or to Marycrest Manor in Culver City in support of the care of the elderly.