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Ron Thornton, Emmy-Winning Visual Effects Designer of ‘Babylon 5,’ Dies at 59

Ron Thornton, a visual effect pioneer known for his work on “Babylon 5” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” died Monday in his Albuquerque, N.M., home after a short illness. He was 59.

Born in London, Thornton moved in 1984 to the U.S., where he went on to shoot and create miniature sets for the films “Commando,” “Space Balls,” “Critters,” and “Robot Jox.” Prior to emigrating to America, he worked at BBC on “Doctor Who” and “Blakes 7,” also creating props and miniatures.

Thornton is best known for bringing computer-generated imagery (CGI) to television, most notably on the series “Babylon 5.” Following its series pick-up, he formed Foundation Imaging in 1992 with Paul Beigle-Bryant, who would go on to supervise visual effects for “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager,” and “Enterprise.” He won a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding achievement in visual effects in 1993 for his work on the television film “Babylon 5: The Gathering.”

His other credits include the show “Nashville,” the 2002 television film “Superfire,” and “Star Trek” spinoffs such as “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager,” and “Enterprise.” He received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in 1999 for his work on “Star Trek: Voyager.”

Thornton is survived by his wife, Lada. A GoFundMe page was created in September to help cover his costly medical expenses.

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