Carlo Rambaldi, the triple Oscar-winning creator of the iconic and loveable alien ET and the less cuddly monster in Alien, has died in Italy aged 86, a local cultural advisor says.
Rambaldi died in hospital in Lamezia Terme, in Italy's Calabria region, where he had lived for his final years. The cause of death on Friday (local time) was not given.
"One of the geniuses of international cinema has gone," said cultural advisor Mario Caliguiri, who called Rambaldi "a magician of special effects." Rambaldi's dramatic work won him three Oscars - for Alien, ET and King Kong - and a legion of fans.
Born on September 15, 1925 in Vigarano Mainarda, near Ferrara in northeastern Italy, he attended Bologna's Fine Arts academy. He took his first steps into the world of cinema with a 16-metre long dragon created for the film Sigfrido, directed by Giacomo Gentilomo.
Rambaldi worked with renowned Italian directors including Marco Ferreri, Mario Monicelli and Dario Argento. But it was his Hollywood years that allowed him to develop his skills in mechatronics - a mix of mechanical and electronic engineering used to produce special effects.
For King Kong, directed by John Guillermin in 1976, he created a giant monkey 12 metres high and a mechanical arm for close-up shots of actress Jessica Lange, who played the female lead role.
Three years later, he worked with Swiss surrealist designer Hans Ruedi Giger to design director Ridley Scott's monster in Alien.
But it was the endearing extra-terrestrial star of Steven Spielberg's 1982 box office hit ET that won him the admiration of the cinema world and the public.
Rambaldi also worked on another Spielberg film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and David Lynch's Dune, released in 1984.