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'Star Wars' Artist Ralph McQuarrie Dead at 82

Academy Award-winning concept artist Ralph McQuarrie died on Saturday at the age of 82.

The man who created the look of Star Wars characters including Darth Vader, Chewbacca and R2-D2 and C-3PO has died. Academy Award-winning concept artist Ralph McQuarrie died on Saturday at the age of 82.

A message on his website reads: “We'll miss you Ralph. You will forever be the brightest star in our galaxy.”

McQuarrie was known for bringing the Star Wars galaxy to life, along with working on several other films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He won an Oscar for best visual effects in 1986 for Cocoon. He also worked on the original Battlestar Galactica TV series.

The statement on his website adds: "His influence on design will be felt forever. There's no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say... ‘that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted.’”

Born in Gary, Indiana, McQuarrie’s career started a technical illustrator for Boeing. He designed movie posters on the side, and did some work for CBS for the network’s coverage of NASA's Apollo space program. He was recruited by Lucas to design some of the characters for his Star Wars series. He went on to not only create some of the most memorable characters of the series, but also the detailed worlds of Tatooine, Dagobah and Cloud City.

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, George Lucas released a statement about McQuarrie’s death, saying “Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars. His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.’”

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.