- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
Robert Blalack, the Industrial Light & Magic co-founder who shared an Oscar for his contribution to the groundbreaking visual effects employed on the original Star Wars, has died. He was 73.
Blalack died Wednesday of cancer at his home in Paris, his wife, writer Caroline Charron-Blalack, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Blalack also shared an Emmy for his VFX work on The Day After, the 1983 ABC telefilm about a nuclear war between the U.S. and Soviet Union that drew 100 million viewers and was the highest-rated TV movie in history at the time.
Born in Panama on Dec. 9, 1948, Blalack attended St. Paul’s School in London and Pomona College and Cal-Arts in California.
He had worked at Crest Digital and on Peter Davis’ Oscar-winning Vietnam documentary Hearts and Minds (1974) when he met John Dykstra during production of a doc about Douglas Trumbull’s VFX house Future General Corp.
The two then teamed with George Lucas and others to launch ILM, and he, Dykstra, John Stears, Richard Edlund and Grant McCune won the effects Academy Award for Star Wars (1977). Blalack designed and supervised the composite optical production pipeline that produced all 365 VistaVision VFX shots for the film.
“We discovered that building ILM from scratch during production was like jumping out of a plane and stitching up the parachute during free fall,” he said during an ILM reunion in 2017.
In 1980, Blalack produced the visual effects for the 13-part PBS documentary series Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.
His film résumé also included Meteor (1979), John Landis’ The Blues Brothers (1980), Airplane! (1980), Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980), Wolfen (1981), Paul Schrader’s Cat People (1982) and Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop (1987), and he did lots of work for theme park rides as well.
In addition to his wife, survivors include his son, Paul.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ Team on Bringing the Iconic Characters to Life in a New Way: “It’s a Dream Come True”
Chris Hemsworth Says Director Criticisms of MCU Are “Super Depressing,” Chalks Mixed ‘Thor 4’ Reviews Up to Movie Being “Too Silly”
‘White Men Can’t Jump’ Star Laura Harrier on Remixing the 1992 Classic, ‘Spider-Man’ Memories and ‘BlacKkKlansman’ Impact
Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri Start a High School Fight Club to Hook Up With Cheerleaders in ‘Bottoms’ Trailer