Ralph McQuarrie, Star Wars designer, dies aged 82


Ralph McQuarrie, whose pre-production paintings defined the look of "Star Wars," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Cocoon," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," among other classics, has died at 82, his website announced.

The cinematic designer, who created such famous Star Wars characters such as Darth Vader, Chewbacca and R2-D2, had complications from Parkinson’s disease, the Washington Post cited John Scoleri, co-author of a book of McQuarrie’s art, as saying.

He died March 3 at his home on Berkeley, California, the paper added.

McQuarrie collaborated with George Lucas on the original Star Wars trilogy in the 1970s and with Steven Spielberg on films including E.T., and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

He also was part of the team that won the 1985 Academy Award for best visual effects for Cocoon, about aliens who can pass on the gift of immortality, directed by Ron Howard.

McQuarrie, born in Gary, Indiana, moved to California to work as a technical illustrator for Boeing, designing movie posters on the side, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Before George he hired him to visualize his ideas for (the later retitled) "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope" for a then skeptical 20th Century Fox, he also contributed animation to CBS for their coverage of the Apollo moon missions in the late ’60s.

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