PASSINGS: Carlo Rambaldi, David Scott


Carlo Rambaldi

Oscar-winning special effects master

Carlo Rambaldi, 86, an Academy Award-winning special effects master known as the father of “E.T.,” died Friday in southern Italy after a long illness, Italian news media reported.


He won visual effects Oscars for “E.T.,” Steven Spielberg’s 1982 extraterrestrial hit, Ridley Scott’s 1979 film”Alien” and John Guillermin’s “King Kong” in 1976.

“Carlo Rambaldi was E.T.’s Geppetto,” said Spielberg, referring to the fictional character who created Pinocchio. The director counted himself among those “who marveled and wondered at his craft and artistry.”

Although Rambaldi worked on more than 30 films, he was best known for his efforts on “E.T.,” for which he created three robots, two costumes worn by actors in the scenes when E.T. walked, and gloves for the hands.

Rambaldi was considered a wizard of mechatronics, which combines disciplines that include mechanical, electronic and systems design engineering.

Born in 1925 in northern Italy, Rambaldi graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna in 1951. He was drawn to cinema when he was asked to create a dragon for a low-budget science-fiction movie in 1956.

He moved to Rome and found work in television before his first big success, the 1975 Italian horror film “Deep Red.” He drew the attention of producer Dino De Laurentiis, who brought him to Hollywood to work on “King Kong.”


David Scott

Longtime director of opera at Cal State Northridge

David Scott, 82, the longtime director of opera and chairman of the voice department at Cal State Northridge who turned a fledgling program into one with a national reputation, died Aug. 4 at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hollywood after suffering injuries in a car accident, said a daughter, Juli Scott.

Scott arrived at what was then San Fernando Valley State College in 1963. Over the next 35 years he taught music classes and directed, conducted, produced and sometimes performed in more than 125 major opera productions at the school. They often sold out and garnered praise from local critics.

A baritone, Scott performed the roles of Falstaff, Don Quixote of “Man of La Mancha,” Sweeney Todd and Frosch in “Die Fledermaus,” among others at CSUN.

Many students of Scott’s went on to professional singing careers, including renowned soprano Carol Vaness. On multiple occasions his students advanced from regional Metropolitan Opera auditions, and five won the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.


David Watters Scott was born April 5, 1930, in Des Moines, Iowa, to two teachers. Growing up in rural Iowa, he played the clarinet and in 1951 earned a degree in music from Iowa’s Simpson College before serving in the Air Force.

At Indiana University, he received his master’s degree and doctorate in music. He taught at the University of Oklahoma and Eastern New Mexico University before coming to California. He retired from Cal State Northridge in 1998 but continued to give private voice lessons.

— Times staff and wire reports