Longtime Lucasfilm Producer Gary Kurtz Dies


Star Wars fans are mourning the loss of Gary Kurtz, a producer that worked on A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back after he lost his battle with cancer.

Gary Kurtz, best known for his producer credits on the first two Star films, The Dark Crystal, and American Graffiti has died from cancer aged 78.

Best known for his work alongside George Lucas, Kurtz was highly regarded as a filmmaking champion when it came to dealing with 20th Century’s reluctance to make the original film then titled simply as ‘Star Wars’, which they dubbed at the time to be a ‘B-picture’ and that it wouldn’t be successful.

When the film became a box office hit, he and Lucas wasted no time in writing Empire Strikes Back.

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Kurtz and Lucas’s filmmaking partnership ended sometime during production on Empire Strikes Back where Kurtz served as the director for the second unit as well as the producer, serving under director Irvin Kershner, who replaced Lucas in the director’s chair. The partnership ended due to Empire being over-scheduled and Lucas having to use much of his own money to ensure the film was completed. Kurtz did not return to produce the final film in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, which saw Howard Kazanjian replace him as producer.

Kazanjian was forced to step into the role of producer when the Lucas-Kurtz partnership ended midway through the Empire Strikes Back’s production which saw him earn an uncredited producer credit.

In the years since the split, Kurtz has said the reason why the now massive franchise is so successful is because of the massive toy sales.

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Luke Skywalker actor, Mark Hamill tweeted his sadness upon learning of Kurtz’s death:

Gary Kurtz is survived by his third wife, his three children and his grandchildren.