[Image Description: The top row consists of concept art by illustrator Ralph McQuarrie for Star Trek (left: The Starship Entreprise) and Star Wars (center: C-3PO and R2-D2, right: X-Wing Fighter vs. TIE Fighters). The bottom and largest image is of McQuarrie working on a painting of a rocket staging for NASA in the Apollo Program.]
Ralph McQuarrie (June 12, 1929 - March 3, 2012)
Visionary artist and futurist Ralph McQuarrie passed away yesterday at age 82. He is prominently known for bringing to color the Star Wars universe for the original trilogy—George Lucas had used Mcquarrie’s concept art to get the 20th Century Fox on board for the first film. His legacy also lies in such works as E.T. the Extra-Terrestial, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and even Raiders of the Lost Ark. The 2009 Star Trek: the Motion Picture was even based on a scrapped 1976 film concept that McQuarrie had worked on.
But before his rise to fame in feature films, he was working behind the scenes for NASA’s Apollo Program and its CBS News coverage.
I worked on paintings used in the animated films, to show the rocket streaking through the sky with flames jetting out, the stages and boosters dropping, altitude changes, and coverage behind the moon where TV transmission was blocked.
My condolences go out for the family of the man whose vision of future worlds and space travel continues to play out in everyone’s mind.
Like just about every pop-culture fan of my generation, I owe an enormous debt of inspiration to this man. Thanks Ralph, for everything.
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