The greatest movie monster of them all was let loose on November 3, 1954, when Godzilla first made its appearance on the big screen throughout Japan. Two years later, Godzilla debuted in the United States and began its journey into the heart of international pop culture.
Mix a gorilla and a whale and you have Godzilla
Originally designed to be a hybrid gorilla and whale, writers from the legendary Toho Studios in Japan finally decided to base Godzilla on well-known dinosaurs, borrowing elements from the Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus.
In fact, the name Godzilla in Japanese is actually Gojira, a mix of the Japanese words gorira (gorilla) and kujira (whale). The monster’s iconic roar was made by rubbing a glove along the string of a contrabass.
Police nearly shut down production
After Godzilla special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya and his crew created the Godzilla suit, they needed to figure out what he would be stomping around on. The special effects team went to Tokyo to see what the movie monster could destroy, when a policeman heard what they were plotting. Thankfully, after a quick identification check, he didn’t arrest anybody and let the team go about their business.
Tsuburaya and his crew wanted to use a stop-motion Godzilla at first, but it would’ve taken seven years to complete the film! Hiring an actor to wear the Godzilla suit made much more sense and the movie could be released in a reasonable amount of time.
Perry Mason joins the cause
Actor Raymond Burr had just begun his run on the television courtroom drama Perry Mason and he nothing to do with the production of the original Godzilla. However, when the film made its American debut, Burr was a major part of the story.
About half an hour of the movie was cut and replaced with new footage shot with Burr. Although he’d never been on the original set, the producers had him act alongside Japanese actors and look-alikes. Some of the original dialogue was also dubbed into English.