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Ralph McQuarrie, the legendary artist who designed such iconic Star Wars characters as Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, R2-D2 and C-3PO, passed away Saturday at age 82. He is survived by his wife Joan.
George Lucas commissioned McQuarrie in 1975 to illustrate several scenes from his script, bringing the director’s vision to life in conceptual paintings used to convince 20th Century Fox to fund the project.
“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,” Lucas said in a statement. “When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.'”
While McQuarrie is best known for his conceptual designs for A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi — he’s the one who suggested Darth Vader wear a breathing apparatus — he also worked on the original Battlestar Galactica television series and such films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“His influence on design will be felt forever,” a statement on McQuarrie’s website reads. “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.'”