Gary Kurtz, 78, producer of "Star Wars" and "American Graffiti"
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Michael OConnor
2018-09-25 00:05:45 UTC

Gary Kurtz Dies: ‘Star Wars’ & ‘American Graffiti’ Producer Was 78
by Andreas Wiseman
and Peter White
September 24, 2018 9:07am

Veteran U.S film producer Gary Kurtz, producer of movies including Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and America Graffiti, has died in London aged 78.

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Kurtz passed away yesterday, Sunday September 23, after a year-long battle with cancer.

Starting as an assistant director on Montel Hellman’s western Ride in the Whirlwind, starring Jack Nicholson, he also worked on Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet and Dennis Hopper’s Queen of Blood. After military service, he was an associate picture on Chandler and Two-Lane Backdrop before meeting George Lucas in 1971. He co-produced American Graffiti, before making a deal with 20th Century Fox to produce Star Wars; he set up the second unit and directed many pick ups, including most of the cockpit dog fight scenes, as well as the special effects.

The UK-based Kurtz then worked on Empire Strikes Back, his last collaboration with Lucas. He helped to direct alongside Irvin Kershner.

In 1982, he produced The Dark Crystal with Frank Oz and Jim Henson, 1985’s Return To Oz, 1989’s Slipstream, 1995’s The Steal and 2007’s 5-25-77.

“Gary was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, colleague, and mentor, whose work and talent spanned filmmaking, photography, music, and cinema history,” his family’s statement said. “He was a Marine, a world traveller, an outdoorsman, and a kind, compassionate human being. … Gary was a magnificent man, who will be hugely missed. His whole family thanks you for your loving thoughts.”

Tributes are pouring in from Star Wars icons and associates,

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Star Wars

Lucasfilm remembers Gary Kurtz, producer of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. http://strw.rs/6006D2XqK

12:13 PM - Sep 24, 2018
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Peter Mayhew

RIP Gary Kurtz. A great filmmaker and man has just passed. Without him there would have been no "force". You will be remembered in the incredible films you made that touched the lives of millions. #ESB #starwars #americangraffiti @starwars

10:29 AM - Sep 24, 2018
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Elstree Studios

#StarWars producer Gary Kurtz has sadly passed away. Gary Kurtz was an American film producer whose list of credits include Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal and Return to Oz all #MadeAtElstree

11:31 AM - Sep 24, 2018
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Terry del Fuego
2018-09-25 13:33:58 UTC
On Mon, 24 Sep 2018 17:05:45 -0700 (PDT), Michael OConnor
Dennis Hopper’s Queen of Blood
"Dennis Hopper's"?