Ralph McQuarrie Passes at 82
When we go to the films and enjoy the ‘Star Wars’ films all over again, there’s an extra reason to go. Star Wars would not have been possible for George Lucas without the help of one of his best known and common collaborators, Ralph McQuarrie. McQuarrie was instrumental in helping to conceptualize many of the alien worlds and landscapes, and is credited for designing the look of Darth Vader.
CBS News has this sad note:
A commercial artist and designer whose career included stints at Boeing and Kaiser Graphic Arts and creating animations of Apollo space flights for CBS News, McQuarrie created the concept art that was crucial in winning 20th Century Fox’s approval to put George Lucas’ “Star Wars” in production.
The success of his “Star Wars” paintings launched a late feature film career for McQuarrie that included helping design such classics as “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial,” “Back to the Future,” “Cocoon,” “Total Recall,” and the original TV series “Battlestar Galactica.”
A lot of today’s filmmakers credit the likes of Lucas for being influential. I often said that without McQuarrie there would be no Lucas. In the mid-70s and early 80s, when my age group absorbed everything from A Galaxy Far Far Away, one extra bonus was seeing photos and collector’s cards on behind the scenes filmmaking. That included McQuarrie’s matte paintings – a huge fixture on the original trilogy, especially on Empire. Every time I will see the Cloud City of Bespin I will think of the artist who helped make it come to life.
McQuarrie’s work on Raiders is even more subtle: it is featured in the history book Indiana Jones shows the American agents as he explains the Ark Of The Covenant.
Thank you, Mr. McQuarrie, for help giving us the great Science Fiction and fantasy effects and designs in film, history and advertisement. You will be missed.