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'Godzilla' Star Dies

Japanese actor first played the monster in 1954


Know this about Haruo Nakajima: That man was a monster.

Nakajima, who died of pneumonia Monday at 88, terrorized Tokyo and moviegoers as the original Godzilla, the giant beast who wreaked havoc throughout the land with his sheer brawn and sinister "atomic breath." One blast could pulverize everything in Godzilla's path, much like the nuclear weapons that inspired the creation of the 1954 movie monster.

Nakajima's costume was made of ready-mixed concrete and weighed more than 200 pounds. "It was so heavy and hot," he once recalled, "and with the lighting, it was even hot just to touch it. I was sweating all over my face, but I did the best I could."

The Japanese actor would reprise his role in 11 more Godzilla movies and expand his beastly repertoire by playing other monstrous movie stars like King Kong, Mothra and Rodan.

Nakajima took pride in knowing that his greatest role would far outlive him. "The Godzilla I played remains on film forever," he told an interviewer. "It remains in people's memory, and for that, I feel really grateful."