According to the announcement by Lucasfilm staffer, Steve Sansweet, Ralph McQuarrie passed way today at his home in Berkeley, California, after a long illness.
Here's the quote from Steve Sansweet from his Facebook site:
THE DEATH OF AN ICON: I’m sorry to report that RALPH McQUARRIE, the brilliant concept artist who brought George Lucas’ ideas and story of Star Wars to amazing visual life, died earlier today (Saturday March 3) at his home in Berkeley, California, after a long illness. He was 82 years old. Plans for a memorial service are pending. Ralph was not only a superb artist, but a fascinating story teller. He was quiet and self-effacing, but became the perfect partner for Lucas to get his initial Star Wars movies look as striking as they did. Ralph is survived by the love of his life, his wife Joan, who was always his strongest champion. I met them both in the early 1990s when I was working on my first Star Wars book and I want to express my personal condolences to Joan and all of their many friends.
Ralph McQuarrie was responsible for helping to create the look of the original Star Wars trilogy. He also was the ILM illustrator for the 1st Indiana Jones movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark", and his other work included doing concept illustrations for, "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial", the original "Battlestar Galactica", "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", and the 1st "Jurassic Park" movie.
Both he and his work will be greatly missed, and may the Force be with him in the afterlife.
Eric, I love many of Ralph McQuarrie's Star Wars concept paintings, but this is one of my favorite Ralph McQuarrie's Star Wars paintings. (This was one of Ralph McQuarrie's concept paintings for Star Wars-"The Return Of The Jedi" before that movie went into production.) I have many other favorites of his beautiful Star Wars concept paintings, but it would take several pages to post them all here. The man's artwork was just superb, and there will never be another Ralph McQuarrie.