“Star Wars” Concept Artist Ralph McQuarrie Dies At 82

Ralph McQuarrie

Early Ralph McQuarrie concept pieces for RECOiL were criticized as derivative of his earlier work.

Berkeley, CA—Ralph McQuarrie, the Oscar-winning “Star Wars” concept artist largely responsible for creating the iconic look of George Lucas’ trilogy, died Saturday after a long bout with Parkinson’s disease. He was 82.

McQuarrie also worked on designs for the films “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “RECOiL,”  and “*batteries not included.” He won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1986 for his work on “Cocoon.”

He also played the uncredited role of General Pharl McQuarrie in “The Empire Strikes Back,” appearing in Echo Base on Hoth in the film’s opening sequence.

McQuarrie was born in Gary, Indiana in 1929 and moved to California in the 1960s. He found work as a technical illustrator for Boeing and designed movie posters on the side. While George Lucas was still working on the script for the first Star Wars film, he hired McQuarrie to visualize his ideas for studio 20th Century Fox. McQuarrie would go on to create the designs of characters like Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and Boba Fett.

He is survived by his wife, Joan.

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