MILAN -- Carlo Rambaldi, a special effects master and three-time Oscar winner known as the father of "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," died Friday in southern Italy after a long illness, Italian news media reported. He was 86.
"Carlo Rambaldi was E.T.'s Geppetto," said Spielberg, referring to the fictional character who created Pinocchio. "All of us who marveled and wondered at his craft and artistry are deeply saddened."
Rambaldi worked on more than 30 films, but was best known for his work 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. He was a wizard of a discipline known as mechatronics, which combines mechanical, electronic and system design engineering, and did not hide a disdain for computerized effects.
Rambaldi was born in 1925 in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna in 1951. 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 Dino De Laurentiis, who brought him to Hollywood to work on "King Kong."