This week: the man who played the first Godzilla, a lawyer to New Labour, and the star of Bronco

THE Japanese actor Haruo Nakajima, pictured, who has died aged 88, was the very first man to play Godzilla when he wore the rubber suit for the original 1954 film.

Nakajima was a stunt actor in samurai films when he was approached to take on the role of Godzilla, which may be Japan's most successful cultural export. Some fans prefer his version over some Hollywood depictions which they say make the fire-breathing lizard an evil-looking animal.

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Nakajima said he invented the character from scratch, and developed it by going to a zoo to study how elephants and bears moved. He said it was important to show the pathos of the creature, which could only smash everything in its way. "If Godzilla can't walk properly, it's nothing but a freak show," he said.

He recalled that the rubber suit he wore was so hot, especially under the glaring lights of the film set, that the sweat he wrung from his shirt would fill half a bucket.

In the original movie, directed by Ishiro Honda with an unforgettable score by Akira Ifukube, Godzilla surfaces from the Pacific Ocean suddenly, a mutation as a result of nuclear testing in the area.

The classic film, which went on to become a mega-series and inspired Hollywood spin-offs, struck a chord with post-war Japan, the only nation in the world to suffer atomic bombing, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of the Second World War.

Although recent Godzilla films use computer graphics, the latest Japanese Godzilla remake, released last year, went back to using a human actor, Mansai Nomura, a specialist in the traditional theatre of Kyogen. His movements were duplicated on the screen through "motion capture" technology.

LABOUR peer Lord Hart of Chilton, who has died of cancer aged 77, was a solicitor who rose to become one of the inner circle of legal advisors to Tony Blair and the New Labour Government in the 1990s and 2000s.

He was made a peer in 2004 and was a special adviser to Lord Irvine of Lairg and Lord Falconer of Thoroton during their periods as Lord Chancellor under Tony Blair.

Lord Hart had made his name in the 1980s as a property lawyer and, once in government, is widely considered to have helped turn around Lord Irvine's bad press in office.

Lord Bassam, Labour's chief whip in the House of Lords, described Lord Hart as a great lawyer with a sharp eye for detail and good argument. "A thoroughly decent individual, part of Garry's strength was his ability to consider a problem and determine what was essential to protect people's freedoms and rights while acting in the public interest," he said.

THE popular film and television actor Ty Hardin, who has died aged 87, was best known as the star of the Western series Bronco, which was a hit in the US and the UK in the 1950s and 60s.

Born Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr in New York, Hardin grew up in Texas and served in the Korean War. He changed his name in his 20s, in homage to the outlaw John Wesley Hardin, as his acting career was taking off.

Hardin credited John Wayne for giving him a major break when the actor helped him get a contract with Warner Brothers. When Clint Walker left the TV show Cheyenne in 1958 over a contractual dispute, Hardin stepped in and continued in the spin-off Bronco, which aired until 1962.

Hardin also had a diverse film career, from the Joan Crawford thriller Berserk! to the Second World War movies Battle of the Bulge and PT 109.

After struggling with tax issues in the 1970s, he founded an anti-tax organisation that became the extremist anti-government group the Arizona Patriots. The Patriots disbanded after federal agents raided one of its camps in 1986.