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Gerry Anderson, the pioneer British puppeteer behind the classic Thunderbirds series, has died. He was 83.
According to The Associated Press, his son Jamie said that he died in his sleep on Wednesday at home in Oxfordshire, England. He was diagnosed with dementia two years ago and his condition worsened over the past six months, according to Jamie.
“We've been really, really touched by just the outpouring of gratitude for what Dad did for TV in this country,” Jamie told Sky News.
“To those who met him Gerry was a quiet, unassuming but determined man,” Nick Williams, the chairman of fan club Fanderson, said. “His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works. Gerry's legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world.”
Anderson, who started working on TV in the 1950’s, helped bring sci-fi into the mainstream with his mid-’60s series Thunderbirds. The series gave birth to the catch phrase “Thunderbirds are go!”
“He forever changed the direction of sci-fi entertainment,” Jamie said, noting that his animation technique, called “supermarionation,” has inspired generations of animators. The technique uses marionettes with thin strings to tell the stories.
Other TV creations include Stingray and Space: 1999. He also worked on Hollywood’s remake of his UFO series.
Anderson, who became a big supporter of Britain’s Alzheimer’s Society in later life, is survived by his wife and four children.