Ralph McQuarrie, the soft-spoken visionary designer/artist whose concept artwork for the original Star Wars sold that movie to the studio after the script was passed over time after time, has died. He was 82.
Star Wars was created by George Lucas, but his right arm was Mr. McQuarrie, who took Lucas's various concepts, notes and details and breathed life into them. Mr. McQuarrie's art showed that this weird world of Star Wars - a mishmash of pulp scifi, Flash Gordon, cowboy western and samurai film homages, comic books and more - could work. (Mr. McQuarrie put the helmet and faceplate on Darth Vader as he thought he would require a breathing apparatus to move between ships; Lucas liked the look and kept it. If Mr. McQuarrie hadn't thought of that, would Darth Vader had become the menacing, mechanical-breathing bad guy known the world over?)
Mr. McQuarrie also worked on Battlestar Galactica, Close Encounters, Star Trek (both pre-TMP and on ST IV), Cocoon, and E.T., among other films.
His was a talent that helped define a universe, and more. He will be sorely missed.
Here is a sampling of his work, from Aint It Cool News.