40 Years of "Godzilla vs. Hedorah": The Men Who Played Godzilla and Hedorah

by Armand Vaquer

Above, Kenpachiro Satsuma (Hedorah) and Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla) take a break during the filming of "Godzilla vs. Hedorah." This still was signed by both actors. From the personal collection of Armand Vaquer.

As posted previously, July marks 40 years since the release of Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) in Japan.

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the two men who gave it their all in their portrayals of Godzilla and his foe, Hedorah.

Above, Kenpachiro Satsuma (left) and Haruo Nakajima share a laugh in Hollywood 29 years after making "Godzilla vs. Hedorah." Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I had the good fortune to first meet Kenpachiro Satsuma (Hedorah) and Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla) at G-FEST 2000 in Hollywood. Since then, I have gotten to know Mr. Nakajima well and attended a dinner party in the Nakano section of Tokyo with Mr. Satsuma in 2001, following the premiere of Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Both men are some of the nicest people I've ever met in show business.

Satsuma played Hedorah and other monsters before he took over the Godzilla role in 1984 in Return of Godzilla (a.k.a. Godzilla 1985). His stint as Godzilla ended with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah in 1995.

Above, the Bandai Hedorah toy I bought during my 2007 Japan vacation.

Nakajima's appearance of Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Hedorah was second to the last before his retirement from the role. He began his run as Godzilla in the original 1954 feature. His last appearance as Godzilla was in the following year's Godzilla vs. Gigan. Nakajima published an autobiography of his life and career in Japan last year. He is now a spry 82-year-old.

A tip of the cap to both men and domo arigato gozaimasu!

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