Fred C. Knoth; Special Effects Expert

Fred C. Knoth, who headed Universal Pictures' special effects department and won a technical award for designing a fog machine, has died at his Burbank home. He was 88.

Knoth died Thursday of a heart attack, said his daughter, Elecia Klaes.

Born March 13, 1902, in Loveland, Colo., he came to California in the 1920s and worked as a carpenter at Hal Roach Studios. Knoth earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado in 1930 and returned to Hal Roach where he worked as a prop man and an extra in films.

Knoth later turned his interests to special effects, working at Warner Bros. from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s before becoming head of the special effects department at Universal Pictures. He worked on several Abbott and Costello and Laurel and Hardy films in addition to "Topper" (1937), "The Deadly Mantis" (1957) and "The Land Unknown" (1957). He retired from Universal in the late 1960s, but returned to work on "Hellfighters" (1968) and "Airport" (1970).

In 1954, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave Knoth a technical award for co-inventing a portable electric dry-oil fog machine with Orien Ernest.

He is survived by his son, Fred R. Knoth of Downey; daughter, Elecia Klaes of Fountain Valley; six grandchildren, and one great-grandson.

A funeral is scheduled at 11 a.m. today at St. Finbar Catholic Church, 2010 W. Olive St. in Burbank, with burial to follow at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills. Woods Glendale Mortuary is handling the arrangements. Donations can be sent in Knoth's name to the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Assn.

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