In the history of science fiction television, there are some names that come up anytime you start discussing the most popular and influential genre series of all time. Names like Rod Serling, Gene Roddenberry, Chris Carter, Joss Whedon, and J. Michael Straczynski. For fanboys and girls who grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there’s one other name worthy of that list: Gerry Anderson, the creator of cult-classic shows like Thunderbirds, UFO, and Space: 1999. Sadly, Anderson has passed away at the age of 83.
Anderson passed away in his sleep earlier today, as announced by his son, Jamie, in a blog post:
I’m very sad to announce the death of my father, Thunderbirds creator, Gerry Anderson. He died peacefully in his sleep at midday today (26th December 2013), having suffered with mixed dementia for the past few years. He was 83.
Dementia is a tragic fate for anyone, much less a creative figure like Anderson, so we’re glad to hear that when death finally came, he got the blessing of peacefully passing in his sleep. We should all be so lucky.
In addition to the shows mentioned above, and many others, Anderson was probably best known as for his use of “supermarionation,” the use of marionette puppets in shows such as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions. The shows and the supermarionation process have been referenced and parodied many times in the years since, notably in the 2004 movie Team America: World Police, from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Anderson suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease in recent years, and his family requests that any donations in his honor be made to the Alzheimer’s Society via this link. From all the fans for whom Anderson’s creations are still a source of fond childhood memories: so long, Gerry. Safe journeys.
Here’s an obituary from Anderson’s fan club, Fanderson:
Gerry Anderson, known the world over as the film and television producer of Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Space:1999 amongst many others, has died at the age of 83.
On hearing the news the chairman of Fanderson Nick Williams paid tribute to him:
“To those who met him Gerry was a quiet, unassuming but determined man. His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works. Gerry’s legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world.”
Anderson’s unique style of filmmaking influenced the imaginations and careers of countless creatives that succeeded him, and his productions continue to be shown around the world to new generations of fans.
Gerry was diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago and his condition worsened quite dramatically over the past six months. Having already decided with his family on a care home for himself earlier this year, he moved in there in October.
Until very recently Anderson remained interested and involved in the film industry, keen to re-visit some of his earlier successes using the latest technology available. His last producer credit came in 2005 on New Captain Scarlet, a CGI-animated re-imagining of his 1967 Supermarionation series, which premiered on ITV in the UK. Most recently he worked as a consultant on a Hollywood remake of his 1969 series UFO, directed by Matthew Gratzner.
He also worked as a celebrity ambassador for The Alzheimer’s Society, helping to raise awareness of the disease and much-needed funds for the society.
Gerry leaves three children from former marriages, Joy, Linda and Gerry Junior, his son Jamie and widow Mary.
Fanderson will pay a full tribute to Gerry Anderson in FAB 74, due in March 2013.