You had to pay close attention to catch it, but there was a Bellingham connection to last Sunday's Academy Awards show.
One of the people shown during the "In Memoriam" segment was Matthew Yuricich, an Oscar-winning special effects artist who lived in Bellingham for about a decade during his retirement.
Yuricich won an Oscar in 1977 for his work on the futuristic "Logan's Run." During his 40-year career, he worked on more than 200 movies, including "Ben Hur," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Blade Runner." He also was a champion archer and he played on Marilyn Monroe's softball team in Hollywood.
"He did have an amazing life," said daughter Tanja Kanoa, who owns Advanced Medical Massage in Fairhaven. "It seemed like whatever he did, he excelled at. And he was a very nice guy."
Yuricich retired in 1991. He moved to Bellingham nine years later, after he suffered a stroke, to be close to Kanoa. In July 2011, he moved to a care facility near Los Angeles for people in the entertainment industry. A Navy veteran from World War II, he died last Memorial Day at the age of 89.
Yuricich was a major figure among matte artists before computers became the dominant tool for special effects. Matte artists paint backdrops on glass, leaving a space where filmed action is inserted.
In "Ben Hur," for example, his paintings added depth and grandeur to scenes of ancient Rome. In "Field of Dreams," he helped a baseball field magically appear in an Iowa cornfield.
Remember the villain's house at Mount Rushmore in Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest?" Yuricich painted the exterior view of the house so well that people later called him asking for a copy of the architect's drawings.
The year after he won his Oscar, Yuricich was nominated again for his work on "Close Encounters." Joining him in the group nominated was one of his brothers, Richard, a special effects cinematographer.
Today, one of Yuricich's sons, Mark, handles special effects for movies. Talk about a talented bunch.
Here are five movie questions with Whatcom County connections for people deep into trivia:
(1) Former Bellingham resident Steve Gawley is famous for:
A) Making models for such movies as "War of the Worlds," "Men in Black" and "Jurassic Park."
B) Making special effects creatures for those and other movies.
C) Making prize-wining catered lunches at movie production sites.
(2) Legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow grew up in Skagit County and was the subject of George Clooney's movie "Good Night, and Good Luck." Besides living close by, what was Murrow's main connection to Bellingham?
A) He planned to retire here, but CBS made him an offer he couldn't refuse to stay on the East Coast.
B) His parents retired here.
C) Murrow bequeathed his papers to Western Washington University, starting in 2050.
3) "This Boy's Life," starring Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, portrays writer Tobias Wolff's teen years in which Whatcom County community?
4) Why did Whatcom County loom large in the life of former actress Judy Lewis, who died in 2011?
A) She often sailed the Salish Sea with her father, Jerry Lewis.
B) She was conceived out of wedlock when her mother, Loretta Young, and her father, Clark Gable, were filming "The Call of the Wild," with scenes shot near Mount Baker.
C) Lewis, whose stage name was Shari Lewis, got the idea for her puppet Lamb Chop while visiting a farm near Lynden.
5) What's the personnel link between Whatcom County and "Doctor Zhivago?"
A) The movie's camel trainer had worked with horses in Kendall.
B) Actor Omar Sharif won the Bellingham Invitational Bridge Tournament six times.
C) Mount Baker High graduate Arvid Griffen was the movie's executive producer.
Reach DEAN KAHN at email@example.com or call 715-2291.