Ralph McQuarrie, 82, died Saturday at his home in Berkeley. He came up with the look of Darth Vader, R2-D2, Stormtrooper, and many of the most famous Star Wars characters. According to the Los Angeles Times, “His artwork helped persuade 20th Century Fox to green-light the film.”
The LA Times quotes McQuarrie as saying of Star Wars:
"My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn't be enough of an audience. It's just too complicated," he recalled in a 1999 interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. "But George knew a lot of things that I didn't know."
Lucas certainly did know. Star Wars went on to be one of the highest grossing films in history.
One of the characters McQuarrie most cherished was R2-D2. The LA Times quotes him saying," He has a lot of personality for a small metal robot."
CNN Reports that McQuarrie helped create concept designs for Battlestar Galactica, "E.T. and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
McQuarrie had a cameo in The Empire Strikes Back, according to the New York Tiimes. He was dressed as a rebel officer.
McQuarrie had Parkinson's disease and his health had been deteriorating recently. According to the LA Times, “He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Joan; his sister, Joan Wolfe; and two stepsons, Vaughn and Leonard Griffin.”
McQuarrie's website has the following statement from George Lucas:
"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."
Check out his beautiful artwork in some of this story's links.