Special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, best known for his work on Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, died today at his home in southern Italy after a long illness, The Associated Press reports. He was 86. Rambaldi worked on more than 30 films, receiving two visual effects Oscars for E.T. (1982), and Alien (1979). He also won a Special Achievement Academy Award for King Kong (1976). Rambaldi was known as a master of mechatronics, a discipline which includes mechanical, electronic and system design engineering. He was born in northern Italy and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna in 1951. Rambaldi was lured into film when he was asked to create a dragon for a low-budget science fiction movie in 1956. His other film credits include Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977), Possession (1981) and Dune (1984).

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