PALOS VERDES ESTATES, CA--Filmmaker Nathan Juran, whose movies often included remarkable special effects and strange and fantastic creatures, died here Oct. 23 of natural causes. He was 95. Early in his career he won an Academy Award for art direction for his work in 1941's "How Green Was My Valley." MSTies will recall him as the director of the movie in episode 804- THE DEADLY MANTIS.
Born in 1907 in what is now Austria, Juran was the son of a shoemaker who emigrated to America and settled in Minneapolis. Juran initially wanted to be an architect: He earned an architecture degree from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and worked as an architect in Depression-era New York.
But in 1937, after RKO studios hired him to make a drawing of the Brooklyn Bridge from which to build a miniature, he switched careers and became an art director in Hollywood. Only four years later he shared an Oscar with Richard Day for their work in transforming a Malibu ranch into a Welsh mining town for "How Green Was My Valley."
When World War II came, Juran served as a photographer with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
After the war, he returned to art direction, working on movies including "The Razor's Edge," "Body and Soul" and "Harvey." In the 1950s he became a director (sometimes using the name Nathan Hertz), mostly for low-budget Westerns, science fiction and horror films, including titles any MSTie will recognize at once: "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad," "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman," "20 Million Miles to Earth," "The Beast from Space" and "The Brain from Planet Arous."
In the 1960s he moved to television, directing episodes of series including "Land of the Giants," "The Time Tunnel," "Lost in Space," and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."
In the 1970s he retired from filmmaking and returned to architecture.
Juran is survived by his wife, Catherine, a son, a brother and a sister.