Gene Francis Warren Sr., an Academy Award-winning special-effects director, died in Burbank on July 17 after a long struggle with cancer. He was 80.
Warren started his career in the entertainment industry as an animator and puppeteer working at George Pal’s Puppetoons in the late 1940s and early ’50s.
Puppetoons were three-dimensional characters animated by stop-motion cinematography that starred in dozens of one-reel Paramount shorts for nearly a decade. He created “Jasper” and “Tubby the Tuba,” two of the more popular Puppetoons.
Warren later brought his talents to feature-length films; his special-effects wizardry was seen in dozens of films spanning from the mid-’50s to the late ’70s, including “Tom Thumb” (1958), “The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao,” “The Blob,” “Spartacus” and “The Andromeda Strain.”
He and Tim Baar shared the special effects Oscar for their work in MGM’s 1960 “The Time Machine.”
Warren served as the special-effects designer on the pilots and various episodes of “Star Trek,” “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits.”
He also helped create training films and documentaries for NASA and served as production supervisor on various stage productions.
Warren devoted many of his later years as a guest lecturer at USC, UCLA and various sci-fi and film conventions.
His son, Gene Warren Jr., is an Oscar-winning special-effects designer at Fantasy II Film Effects. Warren also is survived by two other sons, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.