Star Wars Trilogy Artist Ralph McQuarrie Dies at Age 82


According to USA Today, Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who is responsible for creating the look of the first Star Wars trilogy's characters, sets and spaceships, has died at age 82. McQuarrie died on Saturday, March 3 at his Berkeley home. The illustrator had suffered from Parkinson's disease in recent years. 

A statement on his official web site reads:

"It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the passing of Ralph McQuarrie. People say you should never meet your heroes. Ralph was the exception to that rule. We were all fans of his amazing art long before we were blessed with his friendship. But once you got to know Ralph it was impossible not to become a fan of Ralph the man.

Ralph was a very special person for many more reasons than his undeniable brilliance with a brush. He was an especially kind, sensitive, deep, modest, funny and fascinating gentleman. And as fine a role model as any one could have wished for.

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."

In a statement on the Star Wars website, George Lucas commented "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."

Among the beloved characters that McQuarrie created looks for were Darth Vader, C-3P0 and R2-D2. He is also credited with designing the Stormtroopers and the lightsaber. The illustrator also worked on creative concepts for the films 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.