If you ask almost any filmmaker who has worked in sci-fi, fantasy and horror who one of their earliest influences is they will say Ray Harryhausen. As a character and creature designer he was years ahead of his time. As an animator he understood that each character must have its own personality. He knew how to bring those personalities to life in service of a story. Harryhausen directed the film sequences he worked on and was also instrumental in crafting the stories for his films. Thanks to him, thousands of kids have built model dinosaurs in their basements and spent their summer vacations writing epic tales of fantasy.
Harryhausen has been a personal hero of mine since childhood. I regret that I never had a chance to meet him. His amazing body of work will continue to inspire and astound for generations. If you haven't discovered his films I highly recommend them. The world is a little less fantastic today.