A representative for Discovery said in a statement: “We are heartbroken to hear this sad news about Grant. He was an important part of our Discovery family and a really wonderful man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.” According to SF Gate, Imahara died of a brain aneurysm.
Fellow former Mythbusters host Kari Byron tweeted on Monday, “Somedays I wish I had a time machine. @ToryBelleci @grantimahara.” Imahara replaced Scottie Chapman during the show’s third season to become part of the Discovery Channel’s build team. He hosted the series with Byron and Tory Belleci through 2014.
The electronics master, who graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, previously worked for Lucas Films’ THX and visual effects division at Industrial Light and Magic. Specializing in animatronics, Imahara worked on major movies such as the Star Wars prequels, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Galaxy Quest, XXX: State of the Union, Van Helsing, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Following the news of Imahara’s death, former Mythbusters host Adam Savage tweeted, “I’m at a loss. No words. I’ve been part of two big families with Grant Imahara over the last 22 years. Grant was a truly brilliant engineer, artist and performer, but also just such a generous, easygoing, and gentle PERSON. Working with Grant was so much fun. I’ll miss my friend.”
Here’s what you need to know about Grant Imahara:
1. Imahara Was Engaged to Longtime Girlfriend Jennifer Newman In 2016 but They Never Married
Imahara popped the question to his longtime girlfriend Jennifer Newman in 2016. Imahara proposed to Newman with what TMZ reported was a 1.56-carat vintage ring while visiting Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles.
Newman, a costume designer, shared on social media following the proposal, “For the record, after asking if he was really sure, I didn’t just say yes… I said “F*** YEAH!” #HolyS***ImEngaged.”
Despite their public engagement, the couple never publicly married or announced their separation. The last time Newman appeared on his Instagram page was in 2016. The last time Imahara appeared on Newman’s Instagram page was on New Year’s Eve 2016. While no wedding pictures ever surfaced, the two still follow each other on social media.
Imahara and Newman apparently remained close friends. Newman tweeted following his death, “I haven’t found the words. I don’t know if I’ll be able to. I lost a part of my heart and soul today. He was so generous and kind, so endlessly sweet and so loved by his incredible friends. I feel so lucky to have known him, to have loved & been loved by him. I love you, honey.”
2. As a Robotics Expert, Imahara Consulted With Disney Imagineering, ILM & ‘The Late Late Show’
Born on October 23, 1970, in Los Angeles, Imahara stayed in Southern California while he pursued a highly successful career in robotics. While consulting with Walt Disney’s Imagineering, he wrote a paper called Stickman: Towards a Human Scale Acrobatic Robot, which was the basis of developing Stuntronics, a product that is now used in Disney parks across the globe.
In 2010, Imahara consulted with Craig Ferguson, who was the host of The Late Late Show, to create a robot named Geoff Peterson, which was controlled and voiced by actor Josh Robert Thompson.
While working at Industrial Light and Magic, Imahara was on a team that rebuilt the Energizer Bunny, which led them to win during their appearance on Junkyard Mega-Wars.
3. Imahara Created His Own Fully Functioning Baby Yoda
Following the epic success of The Mandalorian, Imahara created his own fully functioning version of Baby Yoda. He tweeted on March 6, “Pleased to present my newest creation: a fully animatronic Baby Yoda. Special thx to @SaltiestHime for silicone skin/paint/hair, @thelindsayjane for the coat and Project 842 for the digital model. Touring children’s hospitals starting in April! #BabyYoda #TheMandalorian #Starwars.”
4. Imahara Starred on TV Shows Including ‘Star Trek Continues’ & ‘Drunk History’
Imahara’s talents were not just confined to creating incredible robots featured in Hollywood’s biggest films, he also starred as Sulu on the TV series Star Trek Continues between 2013 and 2017 and appeared on an episode of Drunk History to play Frank Inouye in 2018.
His other credits include an appearance in the TV movie, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, the pilot episode of Star Trek: Renegades, That Cosplay Show, Shelf Life and The Realms of Labyrinth.
5. Tributes to Imahara’s Life & Career Filled Twitter Following the News of His Sudden Death
Imahara’s incredible skill set, as well as his humor on-screen, earned him a lot of fans throughout his career. Actor Matthew Mercer tweeted a tribute on Monday. He wrote, “There are rare, RARE people in this world that are made of pure love, light, and kindness. @grantimahara is one of the brightest. Not an ounce of malice within that soul. Intelligence and heart that eclipse so much shadow. His years of friendship are precious to so many.
“He would drop anything and everything to help a friend, including our engagement,” Mercer continued. “He put charity and community work as a priority in so many projects. He was an inspiration in so many ways, and I’m going to miss that joyful laugh so much. The silliness and adventure. He was passionate about making tomorrow a little better, in ways big and small. In being a mentor and entertainer, to make others smile with his gifts. His generosity was unrivaled. There are too many stories. Too many wonderful memories. We miss you, bud.”