'Star Wars' Producer Gary Kurtz Dies at 78

"Gary was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, colleague and mentor, whose work and talent spanned filmmaking, photography, music and cinema history," his family said in a statement.
Photofest
Gary Kurtz (left) and George Lucas on the set of 'Star Wars'

Gary Kurtz, producer of Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back has died, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. He was 78.

In a statement Monday, his family said Kurtz died Sunday from cancer in London. 

"Gary was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, colleague, and mentor, whose work and talent spanned filmmaking, photography, music, and cinema history," the statement read. "He was a Marine, a world traveller, an outdoorsman and a kind, compassionate human being. His life’s work was to share the wonder of audio visual storytelling through the art of film. Well-known for his work as the producer of American Graffiti, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Crystal, Gary was passionate about telling stories that shared the humanity of characters in entertaining ways for audiences around the world. Gary was a magnificent man, who will be hugely missed. His whole family thanks you for your loving thoughts."

In a statement to THR, George Lucas said, "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."

Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in a number of the Star Wars films, tweeted Monday about losing Kurtz.

"RIP Gary Kurtz," he wrote. "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."

Mark Hamill also paid tribute to Kurtz.

"I've lost a lifelong friend," the actor wrote on Twitter. "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 better man just for having known him."

On the official Star Wars site, a statement was posted, which read in part, "A man of immense talent and intelligence, Kurtz will be missed greatly by Lucasfilm, and we’ll remember his many contributions to Star Wars and film."

The Kit Marlowe Film Co., which was working with Kurtz on his most recent project, also commented on his passing. 

“We are deeply saddened to lose our colleague Gary Kurtz to cancer," the statement read. "Gary was to be the producer of our forthcoming film, Christopher Marlowe. We will miss his leadership and expertise and even more his gentle guidance and graceful nature. He was more than a colleague; he was also a friend. As we continue on, we will acknowledge his many contributions to our film by making it one that he would have been proud of. While there will be others also involved in the final result, this is and always be 'A Gary Kurtz Production.'"