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Haruo Nakajima

Haruo Nakajima was born on January 1st 1929 in Yamagata, Japan. He is considered by many to be the best suit actor in the long history of the franchise. At the time, Toho’s visual effects director, Eiji Tsuburaya considered Nakajima completely invaluable, and was employed to essay the roles of most of the kaiju (Japanese monsters) during his career as a suit actor. After 24 years, Nakajima retired from suit acting upon completion of Godzilla vs. Gigan in 1972 when the studio cycled him out of their contract actor system.

As mentioned, over the years Nakajima has played many kaiju on the big screen for over two decades including Godzilla, Baragon, Matango, Gaira, King Kong, Gryphon, Man Bat, Giant Rat, Lion, and Ganime. He also made TV appearances playing Gomess and Pagos in Ultra Q; Neronga, Gabora, Jirass, and Kiyla in Ultraman; and U-Tom in Ultra Seven. During his time in the suits he has suffered numerous injuries including burns, electric shocks, and near-suffocation.

As well as his kaiju work Nakajima often had non-costume cameos in his films and tv shows he appeared in as well as serve as stunt coordinator utilising his black belt martial arts skills. His camero roles would often be a news reporter or soldier. Outside of his kaiju movies Nakajima also appeared as a bandit in Akira Kurosawa’s legendary The Seven Samurai in 1954. Then in 1958 he played an Akisuki soldier in Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress.

Haruo Nakajima 2

In the late 1990s, Nakajima made a series of personal appearances in Chicago, New York City, New Jersey, and Hollywood (in 2000) at various Japanese monster-themed conventions. He appeared at the Monsterpalooza convention in Burbank, California on April 8–10, 2011. His Japanese-language autobiography, Monster Life: Haruo Nakajima, The Original Godzilla Actor, was released on July 17th 2010.

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