En­gi­neer who co-hosted ‘Myth­Busters,’ dead at 49

Antelope Valley Press - - WEATHER / OBITUARIES - By MIKE IVES

Grant Ima­hara, an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer who co-hosted the pop sci­ence show “Myth­Busters” on the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel and op­er­ated robots in the “Star Wars” pre­quels and other ma­jor Hol­ly­wood films, has died. He was 49.

Ima­hara’s death was con­firmed by Dis­cov­ery Com­mu­ni­ca­tions on Mon­day night. A com­pany spokes­woman said the cause was be­lieved to be a brain aneurysm and that Ima­hara, who lived in Los An­ge­les, was thought to have died hours ear­lier. No other de­tails were im­me­di­ately avail­able.

“We are heart­bro­ken to hear this sad news about Grant,” Dis­cov­ery said in a state­ment. “He was an im­por­tant part of our Dis­cov­ery fam­ily and a re­ally won­der­ful man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his fam­ily.”

Ima­hara was born in Los An­ge­les and grad­u­ated in 1993 with a de­gree in elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing from the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, ac­cord­ing to his Facebook page and a brief bi­og­ra­phy on the Dis­cov­ery web­site.

He later worked as an an­i­ma­tron­ics en­gi­neer and model-maker for In­dus­trial Light & Magic, a de­signer of movie spe­cial ef­fects that was founded by Ge­orge Lu­cas in 1975. In a brief bi­og­ra­phy on the movie site IMDB, Ima­hara is de­scribed as an “elec­tron­ics wizard” who worked “be­hind the scenes of many top Hol­ly­wood films for years.”

Ima­hara op­er­ated R2-D2 in the “Star Wars” pre­quels. He also worked on “Ter­mi­na­tor 3: Rise of the Ma­chines,” Steven Spiel­berg’s “The Lost World: Juras­sic Park” and the “Ma­trix” se­quels, among other films, and de­vel­oped a custom cir­cuit for the En­er­gizer Bunny’s arms and ears.

He also built a ma­chine that be­came a cham­pion on “Bat­tleBots,” a ro­bot fight­ing show that ran on Com­edy Cen­tral from 200002. A year af­ter the show ended, he pub­lished a book, “Kickin’ Bot: An Il­lus­trated Guide to Build­ing Com­bat Robots.”

Ima­hara worked on “Myth­Busters” from 200514, ini­tially as a mem­ber of its “build team.”

Asked in a 2008 in­ter­view with the web­site MachineDe­sign what a typ­i­cal day on the show looked like, Ima­hara replied that there was no such thing.

“We could be jump­ing out of planes, learn­ing to swing on a trapeze, swim­ming with sharks, and the list goes on and on,” he said. “We usu­ally find out what we’re do­ing for the week on Mon­day morn­ing.”

In a 2006 ar­ti­cle about “Myth­Busters,” The New

York Times sci­ence writer John Schwartz wrote that the show’s cast spe­cial­ized in “bang­ing stuff to­gether” and “set­ting stuff on fire.”

“Their de­light in dis­cov­ery for its own sake is fa­mil­iar to most sci­en­tists, who wel­come any re­sult be­cause it ei­ther con­firms or de­bunks a hy­poth­e­sis,” he wrote. “That sense of things can be cor­rupted when grants or li­cens­ing deals are on the line. But the Myth­busters get paid whether their ex­per­i­ments suc­ceed or fail.”

Along with his for­mer “Myth­Busters” co-hosts Kari By­ron and Tory Bel­leci, Ima­hara later co-hosted “White Rab­bit Project,” a show on Net­flix that looked back on history’s great­est in­ven­tions and heists. It ran for one sea­son in 2016.

In 2018, he wrote on Twitter that he had spent the pre­vi­ous year work­ing on a Walt Dis­ney Imag­i­neer­ing project to cre­ate au­tonomous ro­bot stunt dou­bles. As of Mon­day, his Facebook page said he was still work­ing as a Dis­ney con­sul­tant.

The page said he had also been work­ing as a me­chan­i­cal de­signer for Spec­tral Mo­tion, a Cal­i­for­nia-based com­pany that spe­cial­izes in an­i­ma­tron­ics, ac­tion props and pros­thetic makeup ef­fects.

In March, as the Coro­n­avirus be­gan to rip through the United States, Ima­hara posted a pic­ture on Twitter of a ta­ble in his home that was lit­tered with pa­pers, a mag­ni­fy­ing glass, a lap­top and a jumble of other elec­tron­ics gear.

“Show me your WFH space!” he wrote in a post that ended with a smi­ley face emoji. “Here’s mine: a bunch of elec­tron­ics equip­ment on a fold­out ta­ble.”


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