Remembering a visionary ''Star Wars'' artist

Ralph McQuarrie — the legendary artist who helped bring to life Star Wars‘ unforgettable galaxy far, far away — died March 3 at age 82 in Berkeley, Calif., after battling Parkinson’s. Born in Gary, Ind., McQuarrie moved to California to work as a technical illustrator for Boeing before breaking into Hollywood as a movie-poster designer. He’d later contribute concept art for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the original Battlestar Galactica TV series, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Cocoon, which won him an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1986. But it’s his now-iconic designs of Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO that will be McQuarrie’s most cherished legacy. Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO in all six Star Wars films, tweeted, ”Without his inspirational art I would not be C-3PO. I once said to him, ‘This is all YOUR fault!’ Then I thanked him.” In fact, there might be no Star Wars at all without McQuarrie. George Lucas used his designs to help sell the space opera to a still-skeptical 20th Century Fox in 1975. As Lucas said in a statement, ”Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars…. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.”’