When it comes right down to it, Ralph McQuarrie is the man you have to thank for much of what you really love about Star Wars. His designs set the tone for the films, and he is responsible for the look of characters like Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca and more. It was also said that his concept paintings played a crucial role in convincing studio execs to greennlight Star Wars in the first place.
In addition to Star Wars, McQuarrie helped bring worlds to life in other classic movies and TV shows such as Battlestar Galactica (1978), E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Cocoon and Close Enounters of the Third Kind.
Sadly, McQuarrie, passed away this weekend at the age of 82. I think his contributions can be summed up best by George Lucas, who released the following statement upon his passing:
“Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars. 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 and say, ‘Do it like this.’”
If you would like to pay your respects, head on over to the Ralph McQuarrie Facebook page. You can also learn more about McQuarrie’s work on his personal website.