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Gone West: Gerry Anderson

Creator Of The Cult British TV Classic 'Thunderbirds'

He called his method of production "Supermarionation", and his principal characters were all marionettes. Employing the puppets and scale models, Garry Anderson created a cult television classic "Thunderbirds" which ran for two seasons on Britain's ITV, and later became a staple on Saturday mornings in U.S. syndication. Anderson died Wednesday at the age of 83 of complications resulting from Alzheimer's disease in Oxfordshire, England.

Anderson and his wife Sylvia developed the series in 1965. It centered around the five-member Tracy family, as well as "Lady Penelope" and her butler "Parker." The family flew high-tech airplanes and rockets fighting evil around the world and even into space. The TV show spawned two feature-length movies ... "Thunderbirds are Go" and "Thunderbirds 6" in 1966 and 1967, respectively.

National Public Radio reports that Anderson's puppeteering and modeling techniques were considered groundbreaking in the industry. Derek Meddings, who was Anderson's main designer on the show, went on to work on the James Bond and Superman franchises during the 1970s and 1980s.

Thunderbirds was remade in 2004 as a live-action film. Anderson also created the live-action television series Space: 1999.

In the last year of his life, Anderson had been a vocal advocate for research into a cure for Alzheimer's disease, and a strong supporter of the Alzheimer's Society, according to the society's executive director Jeremy Hughes.

(Image captured from YouTube "Thunderbirds are Go" trailer)

FMI: www.alzheimers.org.uk

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