A Tribute to Original Star Wars Producer Gary Kurtz

Gary Kurtz, the film producer who believed in George Lucas and, with him, launched the original Star Wars has died.

His daughter Tiffany said in a statement:

“Gary was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, colleague, and mentor, whose work and talent spanned film-making, photography, music, and cinema history. He was a Marine, a world traveler, an outdoorsman, and a kind, compassionate human being.”

Mark Hamil tweeted:

“I've lost a lifelong friend. The world has lost a kind, wise, multi-talented artist & filmmaker whose contributions to cinema cannot be overstated. It was an honor to have worked with him & I know I am a better man just for having known him.”

gary kurtz
Image Courtesy of Lucasfilm

Kurtz first worked with George Lucas as a producer on the coming-of-age comedy American Graffiti (1973), which became a massive surprise hit. It would receive several Academy Award nominations, including one for Kurtz and co-producer Francis Ford Coppola for Best Picture.

Lucas said of his old colleague:

“Gary’s passing will be felt throughout the Star Wars family. Through what were sometimes challenging shooting difficulties and conditions, his contributions as a producer helped bring the stories to life onscreen. My heart goes out to his family.”

Kurtz did three movies with Lucas before they parted ways due to the classic “creative differences” reasoning. The three films in question were American Graffiti (1973), Star Wars (1977), and The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

Kurtz produced fan favorites The Dark Crystal (1982) and the Mark Hamill clunker, Slipstream (1989). He also executive produced Return to Oz (1985).

He has a single acting credit – and it's a pretty good one. Kurtz appeared as a photographer in The Godfather: Part II (1974), which is arguably the finest movie ever made.

His other movie credits (in a variety of behind-the-camera roles) include Beach Ball (1965), Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965), Ride in the Whirlwind (1966), The Shooting (1966), Blood Bath (1966), Queen of Blood (1966), The Hostage (1967), Imago (1970), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Chandler (1971), The Thief and the Cobbler (1993), The Steal (1995), and 5-25-77 (2022) which was released posthumously.

His television credits (also in a variety of behind-the-camera roles) include The Making of Star Wars (1977), Mickey's Nutcracker (1992), The Animated Odyssey (2000),  The Tale of Jack Frost (2004), Friends and Heroes (2007), and Resistance (2008).

He won a variety of awards, including a Golden Globe, a People's Choice Award, and a Saturn Award.

Gary Douglas Kurtz was born on July 27, 1940, in Los Angeles, California.

He was a Quaker and was married three times; first to Meredith Alsup and then to Roberta Jiminez. However, both of Kurtz's first two marriages ended in divorce. He did, however, have three children; daughters Tiffany and Melissa, with Alsup, and a son, Dylan, with Jiminez. His final marriage was to Clare Gabriel and the couple were married until Kurtz's death.

Gary moved to England for the production of Star Wars and decided to remain there. He tragically died of cancer on September 23, 2018, in London, England. He was 78 which is not a bad inning when you have two Star Wars production credits to your name.

May he rest in peace.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.