Star Wars artist who designed Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO dies

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Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie, who created many of the original movie characters, has died at age 82.

McQuarrie was responsible for helping to bring the first Star Wars trilogy to life. He designed the sets and spaceships and many of the most famous characters from the charming, chirping robot R2-D2 to the golden sidekick C-3PO, as well as the most evil of them all, Darth Vader.

McQuarrie suggested giving the black-caped character a helmet with a breathing apparatus.

Star Wars director George Lucas released a statement saying the film kept getting rejected by the big studios until he hired McQuarrie in the mid-1970s to do a series of paintings. Those artful depictions helped influence 20th Century Fox to go forward and greenlight what would become one of the most popular and profitable film franchises of all time.

McQuarrie went on to work on illustrations for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Cocoon.”

Before his work in film, he was a technical artist at Boeing.

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