Original animatronic E.T. head used in Steven Spielberg’s hit sci-fi film sells for $635K at auction

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Written By Maya Cantina

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Movie buffs had a chance at owning a piece of Hollywood history when the original mechanical animatronic E.T. head made for Steven Spielberg’swildly popular film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial went up for auction.

The event kicked off on Thursday with a Robots, Wizards, Heroes & Aliens themed evening in Beverly Hills, according to TMZ, as part of a four-day event entitled Hollywood Legends through Julian’s Auctions.

The winning bidder shelled out a whopping five $635,000 to land the E.T. head created by legendary special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi.

In all, there were 12 bids made by the time the winning bid was offered.

The head is composed of a metal frame and a foam latex outer skin, which had the ability to activate the pulsation of veins in some close-up scenes. 

The original mechanical animatronic E.T. head made for Steven Spielberg’s wildly popular film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was sold at auction for $635,000

The E.T. was sold through Julian's Auctions Thursday during an event entitled Hollywood Legends

The E.T. was sold through Julian’s Auctions Thursday during an event entitled Hollywood Legends

Rambaldi, who also designed the aliens for Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, made four heads for the shooting of E.T., one as the main animatronic and the others for facial expressions, as well as a costume, according to Wikipedia.

The puppet, who controlled E.T.’s face by a team of puppeteers with animatronics, was created in three months at the cost of $1.5 million.

Two little people, Tamara De Treaux and Pat Bilon, as well as 12-year-old Matthew DeMeritt, who was born without legs, took turns wearing the costume during the shoot that went from September to December 1981 on a budget of $10.5 million.

DeMeritt actually walked on his hands and played all of the scenes where the E.T. character was supposed to walk awkwardly or fall over. 

The head was placed above the actors, who could see through slits in its chest.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Melissa Mathison, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial hit theaters with a thunder in June 1982. 

The film tells the story of a boy named Elliot who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed E.T., who was left behind on Earth.

Along with his friends and family, Elliott must find a way to help E.T. find his way home. 

The cast included Dee Wallace, child stars Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore, as well as Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, C. Thomas Howell, K.C. Martel and Sean Frye, among others.

The head is composed of a metal frame and a foam latex outer skin, which had the ability to activate the pulsation of veins in some close-up scenes

The head is composed of a metal frame and a foam latex outer skin, which had the ability to activate the pulsation of veins in some close-up scenes

In all, there were 12 bids made by the time the winning bid was offered

Four heads were built for the four-month shoot of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in 1981

In all, there were 12 bids made by the time the winning bid was offered

Drew Barrymore was also part of the cast that also included Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, C. Thomas Howell, K.C. Martel and Sean Frye, among others

Drew Barrymore was also part of the cast that also included Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, C. Thomas Howell, K.C. Martel and Sean Frye, among others

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial went on to become a blockbuster hit, ultimately earning more than $792 million against a budget of $10.5 million

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial went on to become a blockbuster hit, ultimately earning more than $792 million against a budget of $10.5 million

By the end of its theatrical run in 1983, the film had grossed $359 million in the U.S. and Canada and $619 million worldwide.

The film was re-released in 1985 and again in 2002, earning another $60 million and $68 million respectively, for a worldwide total of just over $792 million.

Riding high on its box office muscle, the sci-fi hit went on to receive nine Oscar nominations at the 55th Academy Awards, winning for Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound and Best Sound Editing.

Among its five other nominations the film was up for included Best Picture and Best Director for Spielberg.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial also won five Saturn Awards and two Golden Globe Awards during its run in awards season.

In 1994, the film was added to the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, which deemed it to be ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.’ 

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