Tomoyuki Tanaka; Japanese Producer of ‘Godzilla’ Films

From Associated Press

Tomoyuki Tanaka, a prolific movie producer who shaped Japan’s post-Hiroshima nightmare into a fearsome giant lizard that the world came to know as Godzilla, died on Wednesday. He was 86.

Tanaka, one of Japan’s best-known producers and chairman of the movie house Toho Co., died of a stroke at a Tokyo hospital.

Among his more than 200 films were such titles as “Mysterians” and “H-Man,” movies beloved by science fiction and special-effects buffs.


But it was on Godzilla, known as Gojira in Japan, that Tanaka made his name. The original movie depicted a reptile awakened from its long slumber by hydrogen bomb testing in the South Pacific in 1954. Over the course of 22 Godzilla films, the monster’s personality and the tone of the movies mirrored Japan’s post-war evolution from shock and anger to gradual recovery.

Godzilla took on everyone from King Kong to Bambi, cultivating a following on television, in video stores and comic books and on toy shelves. He even has multiple home pages on the World Wide Web.

Tanaka joined Toho in 1940 after graduating from Kansai University, and became a producer four years later. He went on to produce movies with Academy Award winning director Akira Kurosawa, including “Akahige” (Red Beard) and “Kagemusha” (The Shadow Warrior).

Tanaka is survived by his wife and three children.