Designer of ‘Star Wars’ look dies in Calif. at 82

Posted March 11, 2012, at 7:21 p.m.

BERKELEY, Calif. — Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who developed the look of the first “Star Wars” trilogy’s signature characters, sets and spaceships, has died. He was 82.

McQuarrie’s death March 3 at his Berkeley home was announced on his official website and Facebook page. John Scoleri, co-author of a book on McQuarrie’s art, told the Los Angeles Times hat McQuarrie had suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

In a statement on the official “Star Wars” website, George Lucas said McQuarrie was the first person he hired to help him envision what would become some of the top-grossing movies of all time.

“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,” Lucas said. “When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations.”

McQuarrie’s original concepts included the look of some of pop culture’s most recognizable characters, including Darth Vader, C-3P0 and R2-D2. He also created the look of the Stormtroopers and the lightsaber.

Other movies to which McQuarrie contributed concept illustrations included “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” ”E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” ”Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.” He won an Academy Award for Visual Effects for his work on the 1985 film “Cocoon.”

McQuarrie worked as a technical illustrator at Boeing before his career in the film industry took off, the Times said. He saw combat in the Korean War and survived a bullet that pierced his helmet.

He is survived by his wife, sister and two stepsons, the Times said.

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