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'Star Wars' illustrator Ralph McQuarrie dies at 82

March 05, 2012|By Dennis McLellan

Ralph McQuarrie, an illustrator who was responsible for creating the look of Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, the Stormtroopers and many other characters for director George Lucas’ “Star Wars” movies, has died. McQuarrie, who shared an Academy Award for visual effects for “Cocoon” in 1986, was 82.

McQuarrie, whose paintings helped persuade 20th Century Fox to greenlight what became the 1977 blockbuster “Star Wars,” died Saturday at his home in Berkeley, said John Scoleri, co-author of a book on McQuarrie’s art. He had Parkinson’s disease and recently had been in declining health.

“Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision ‘Star Wars,’ ” Lucas said in a statement posted online. “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.

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"When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.’ ”

McQuarrie’s production paintings also were used as the models for many of the sets designed for Lucas’ intergalactic war movie.

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