'Star Wars' Visual Effects Artist Grant McCune Dies

3:54 PM PST 12/29/2010 by Kimberly Nordyke
Courtesy of the McCune Family

The Oscar winner, 67, also was nominated for his work on "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."

Grant McCune, the special effects artist who won an Oscar for his model work on Star Wars, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 67.

McCune, who died Monday at his home in Hidden Hills, Calif., won the visual effects Oscar for 1977's Star Wars, the original installment in George Lucas' six-film franchise.

McCune, who created scenes with models and miniature films for more than three decades, also was nominated for an Oscar in 1980 for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Born March 27, 1943, McCune earned a bachelor's degree in biology at California State University in Northridge. He got his start in special effects in the 1970s when he and Bill Shourt were hired to make a realistic giant white shark model for Steven Spielberg's Jaws, though neither was credited on the film.

He later became a partner at Apogee Prods., where he worked on three dozen films, including Die Hard, Never Say Never Again, Big, Space Balls and Caddyshack.

McCune went on to launch his own company, Grant McCune Design, which handled 20-plus films, including Speed, Batman Forever, U.S. Marshals, Red Planet, U-571, Spider-Man and Serenity.

He is survived by his wife, Katherine; a son, Cole; a daughter, Lily; and a sister, Shelley. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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