From all accounts Ralph McQuarrie was a really special person. Not just for his amazing talents with a paint brush, but for who he was as a person. Everyone who got to meet the man or had him as part of their lives personally all say the same thing: “He was an especially kind, sensitive, deep, modest, funny and fascinating gentleman. And as fine a role model as any one could have wished for.”
I never got to meet the man, but there’s no doubt that in some ways he shaped me (and I suspect you too) as a lover of film, even if you don’t realize it directly. George Lucas is credited with the original Star Wars trilogy. But without McQuarrie’s imagination on the pre-production side of things, the Star Wars universe might’ve looked very very different. And likely would not have become the phenomenon it did; creating the likeness for many of the iconic characters we all know and love today, including Chewbacca, Darth Vader, C-3PO and many others. He also worked on E.T., Battlestar Galactica and won an Academy Award for his work on Coccoon.
McQuarrie died yesterday, in his Berkeley, California home. He was 82. You’ll be missed sir, but even by those who didn’t know you directly, I can honestly say you’ll never be forgotten. Every time we pop in that scratchy old VHS copy of The Empire Strikes Back, you’ll be thought of.