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Isidoro Raponi, a mechanical effects artist who worked on blockbuster films such as “Alien” and “E.T.,” died May 27, a representative confirmed to Variety. He died of congestive heart failure at a rehab facility in Los Angeles. He was 76.
Born in Frosinone, Italy in 1945, Raponi got his start working as apprentice for effects creator Carlo Rambaldi, who owned a workshop directly across the street from Raponi’s family bookstore. Raponi worked on numerous Italian films with Rambaldi before relocating to Los Angeles in 1975 to work with his mentor on the “King Kong” remake. He would continue to work closely with Rambaldi on numerous films throughout the ’70s and ’80s, including “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Alien.” Raponi was one of the main designers and operators, alongside Rabaldi, of the alien animatronic in 1982’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”
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In the late ’70s, Raponi began working as mechanical effects artist on Disney films, including “My Science Project,” “Tron” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” For the 1985 Touchstone Pictures adventure film “Baby Secret of the Lost Legend,” he created and operated several dinosaur characters, including a full-size Brontosaurus that stood 70 feet long and 25 feet wide.
Raponi would work consistently over the next several decades providing props and mechanical effects for films such as “Air Force One,” “The Godfather: Part III,” “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “The Running Man,” “The Green Mile,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Gangs of New York” and “The Aviator.” His last film before retirement was the 2012 best picture winner “Argo,” directed by Ben Affleck.
Raponi is survived by his wife, Nina Edelstein, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Tiziana Raponi. His son with Edelstein, Daniel, predeceased him in 2007.
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