Armchair Mogul
The (backseat) driving force behind Hollywood. Way behind.

Ralph McQuarrie (June 13, 1929 – March 3, 2012)


Moguls, did you ever stare in fright at Darth Vader’s menacing mask, or wanted to hug the big furry form of Chewbacca? Did you gaze into the gold-plated form of C-3PO or want your own R2D2 as a best friend? Does E.T.’s ship and all the aliens and ships in Close Encounters of the Third Kind still hold a special place in your heart?

Well you can thank Ralph McQuarrie for his amazing designs. Today, we are very sad to report that he has passed away.

According to Wikipedia: “In 1975, George Lucas commissioned McQuarrie to illustrate several scenes from the script of the film, Star Wars. McQuarrie designed many of the characters, including Darth Vader and Chewbacca and drew many concepts for the film’s sets.McQuarrie’s concept paintings, including such scenes as R2-D2 and C3PO arriving on Tatooine, helped convince 20th Century Fox to fund Star Wars which became a huge success upon release in 1977.Neil Kendricks of The San Diego Union-Tribune stated McQuarrie “holds a unique position when it comes to defining much of the look of the “Star Wars” universe”

McQuarrie went on to work as the conceptual designer on the film’s two sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

McQuarrie also designed the alien ships in Steven Spielberg’s films Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), while his work as the conceptual artist on the 1985 film Cocoon earned him the Academy Award for Visual Effects.

Rick McCallum offered McQuarrie a role as designer for the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but he rejected the offer, noting he had “run out of steam”

McQuarrie designed some of the most loved movies in history, including the Star Wars Trilogy, Close Encounters, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Cocoon, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Batteries Not Included and Jurassic Park.

God bless you, Ralph and thank you for all of your amazing designs.

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One Response to “Ralph McQuarrie (June 13, 1929 – March 3, 2012)”

  1. Geez, would ya look at the flame trail behind that snow speeder? Makes you sick….!

    I remember seeing Mac’s art in the pages of Starlog and wishing, even as a kid, that the Star Wars movies looked more like the images I was seeing.

    The guy was amazingly talented. He’s imprinted his DNA on the world of film and science fiction in a way that few can lay claim to.

    We’re all poorer for having lost him but enriched for having known him at all.

    We’ll miss you, Ralph.


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