Gerry Anderson, 83, puppetry pioneer and British creator of the sci-fi hit Thunderbirds TV show, has died.

Mr. Anderson's son Jamie said his father, who got a diagnosis of mixed dementia two years ago, died in his sleep Wednesday at a nursing home near Oxfordshire, England.

Mr. Anderson's television career launched in the 1950s. Once Thunderbirds aired in the 1960s, "Thunderbirds are go!" became a catchphrase for generations. It also employed "supermarionation" - a puppetry technique using thin wires to control marionettes - and made sci-fi mainstream, according to Jamie Anderson.

He said the TV show was perhaps his father's proudest achievement - along with the cross-generational appeal of his body of work, which also included TV shows Stingray and Space: 1999, among others.

In addition to his son, Mr. Anderson is survived by his wife, Mary, and three other children. - AP