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Joe Lombardi

Special Effects pioneer

Joe Lombardi, a pioneer in the field of special effects who worked on numerous films and television shows, died Dec. 18 in London. He was 74.

Lombardi died of bronchial pneumonia complicated by a serious viral infection of the sinuses, which he contracted one week before his death. He was on his way to Los Angeles from location in Budapest, Hungary, when he fell ill and was hospitalized in London.

Lombardi’s film and television career spanned more than 51 years. His work as a special-effects coordinator for motion pictures included such films as “The Godfather,” “Godfather Part II” and “Apocalypse Now.”

In television, Lombardi supervised the special effects on more than 2,300 series episodes, including “I Love Lucy,” “Wyatt Earp,” “The Danny Thomas Show” and “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Lombardi was honored in March with an Award of Commendation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for special technical contributions to the motion picture industry. He was recognized for his advancements in the field of pyrotechnics and for his efforts to promote on-set safety for effects technicians.

The National Film Society bestowed upon him the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984.

Lombardi’s most recent film project was for HBO Pictures’ “When Trumpets Fade,” directed by John Irvin. He had just completed all of the film’s action sequences when he became ill.

He is survived by three children, Susan Lombardi Luehrs, Paul Lombardi and Steve Lombardi; and four grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.

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