Artist Ralph McQuarrie, whose concept drawings for “Star Wars” defined the franchise at least as much — perhaps more — as the actual movies, has died. He was 82.
McQuarrie’s stylish art provided the template for some of the movies’ most famous characters, including C-3P0, R2-D2, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. He even made a cameo in “The Empire Strikes Back,” which netted him his own action figure, TotalFilm reports.
According to TotalFilm, McQuarrie began his career as a technical illustrator at Boeing. He went on to contribute designs for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “E.T.” He won an Oscar for his work on “Cocoon.”
In a statement, Lucas said McQuarrie’s “genial contribution, in the form of unequalled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy.”
On a personal note, one of my prized possessions as a child was a portfolio of McQuarrie’s concept art for the first “Star Wars” movie. It’s been lost to the sands of time. And on mornings like this, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to hold onto it.