MADRID - Emilio Ruiz del Rio, an award-winning Spanish set decorator and visual and special effects wizard who worked on such films as "Dr. Zhivago," "Lawrence of Arabia," and "Pan's Labyrinth," died of respiratory failure Friday at San Rafael Hospital in Madrid, a hospital official said Sunday. He was 84.
During a career spanning more than 60 years, Mr. Ruiz del Rio worked on more than 450 movies in Europe and the United States, teaming up with directors such as Orson Welles ("Mr. Arkadin," 1955), Stanley Kubrick ("Spartacus," 1960), and George Cukor ("Travels with My Aunt," 1970).
He won three Goya awards, the Spanish version of the Oscars, most recently for "Pan's Labyrinth." The film by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro was nominated for six Oscars last year and won three, although none in Mr. Ruiz del Rio's category.
"Everything I have done and continue to do is aimed exclusively at learning," he wrote in a book of memoirs in 1996. "When a director asks me for one thing I give him two, not out of generosity but because in this way I impose on myself a challenge that I have to resolve, and this stimulates me."
Mr. Ruiz del Rio remained active until the end of his life, working on "Luz de Domingo" (Sunday Light) by Spanish director Jose Luis Garci, one of three films nominated last week by the Spanish cinema academy as a candidate for Spain's best foreign film entry at the next Oscars.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.