– by Joseph Jammer Medina

It’s a sad day in a galaxy far, far away.

According to a new report from THR, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz has passed away at age 78 due to cancer.

“Gary was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, colleague, and mentor, whose work and talent spanned filmmaking, photography, music, and cinema history,” a statement from his family read. “He was a Marine, a world traveller, an outdoorsman, and a kind, compassionate human being. His life’s work was to share the wonder of audio visual storytelling through the art of film. Well-known for his work as the producer of American Graffiti, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Dark Crystal, Gary was passionate about telling stories that shared the humanity of characters in entertaining ways for audiences around the world. Gary was a magnificent man, who will be hugely missed. His whole family thanks you for your loving thoughts.”

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Of course, while George Lucas is the main initial architect of the Star Wars franchise, one cannot understate the importance that Kurtz played not only on Star Wars, but in Lucas’ career. The duo first collaborated on Lucas’ American Graffiti, which the two shopped around to studios together. Without him, Lucas would never have seen his vision realized, and if it had somehow made it to the screen, you can rest assured it would have been at least a little bit different, as the pair to fight others on every front, at least initially.

Kurtz is also known for producing such films as The Dark Crystal and executive producing the nightmare fuel film Return to Oz.

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.