George Lucas couldn't have said it better himself. "I am deeply saddened by the passing of such a visionary artist and such a humble man. 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.'
"Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists'”all of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed. Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination, which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau. In many ways, he was a generous father to a conceptual art revolution that was born of his artwork, and which seized the imaginations of thousands and propelled them into the film industry. In that way, we will all be benefiting from his oeuvre for generations to come. Beyond that, I will always remember him as a kind and patient, and wonderfully talented, friend and collaborator."
Early in his career McQuarrie worked as a technical artist at Boeing, working on construction manuals for the original B747 and later worked on animation sequences of the Apollo missions for NASA and CBS News.
In the mid 1970s, after Lucas' tale of high derring-do on an interplanetary scale had been rejected by both United Artists and Universal, a chance meeting brought the two together. Enlisting McQuarrie to illustrate what he could only draw in words, George Lucas quickly won over the executives at 20th Century Fox and the Star Wars juggernaut was born. And the rest, as they say is history.
In addition to the first three Star Wars films (episodes 4, 5 and 6 as they became), McQuarrie worked as designer or illustrator on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T the Extra-Terrestrial, Cocoon, Star Trek IV, Batteries not Included and Jurassic Park. He won an Academy Award for his work on Cocoon in 1985.
McQuarrie has a small walk-on part as Gen. Pharl McQuarrie in The Empire Strikes Back, for which an action figure was produced.
McQuarrie's own website remembers him more simply, "You created so many wonders that will always live in our hearts. We'll miss you Ralph. You will forever be the brightest star in our galaxy."
We at iTWire echo those thoughts and thank Ralph McQuarrie for images that will stay with us forever.