On the first of January this year, an obscure gentlemen with a most significant cultural heritage, turned 80. His name is Haruo Nakajima and you'll almost certainly not recognize him by his face or his name as someone famous.
Yet, he played one of the most famous characters of all cinema history. For Haruo Nakajima was Godzilla. Yes, Haruo Nakajima was the guy in the Godzilla suit.
Now, don't you go shrugging off that piece of information. It's no small thing being Godzilla. He didn't happen to be any guy putting on a monster suit. He was carefully chosen for the role and he and the crew regarded it as important as any performance. It took physical strength and stamina to move about and perform in a costume so cumbersome. It was heavy and uncomfortable, it absorbed water easily, and it was incredibly hot. More than once Nakajima fainted from heat exhaustion, falling on city models that needed to be rebuilt so he could demolish them properly.
I did a week's work, six shows a day, in a very professional animal suit, and I can tell you, it was very hard work. Trust me, if you have to ever wear a full body animal costume (bucket Koalas don't count as much) you'll soon have proper respect for rubber-suit professionals. And there is none greater than Haruo Nakajima, who played Godzilla in 12 films, from 1954 to 1972. He also was Rodan, Varan, Moguera, baby Mothra and King Kong (in King Kong Escapes, 1967), amongst others.
He is the Monster Man. And he is a legend.
Haruo Nakajima, we salute you.