Gary Kurtz, a film producer who worked on the first two Star Wars films, has died aged 78, according to his family.
Mr Kurtz, who has been described as a “beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, colleague and mentor” by his family, died from cancer in north London on Sunday.
He also worked on hit films including American Graffiti and The Dark Crystal.
Producer Gary Kurtz was a force behind âStar Wars,â âAmerican Graffitiâ and âThe Dark Crystal,â and a friend to so many in our industry. He will be greatly missed. pic.twitter.com/RUwt2kzRYF— The Academy (@TheAcademy) September 24, 2018
The American-born former marine produced Star Wars films A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back with director George Lucas.
“Gary was passionate about telling stories that shared the humanity of characters in entertaining ways for audiences around the world,” his family said in a statement.
Mr Kurtz was “a magnificent man, who will be hugely missed,” they added.
ILM Visual Effects, a company founded by George Lucas in 1975 to create special effects for Star Wars, tweeted saying their “thoughts are with the friends and family” of the producer.
“Gary Kurtz was a key collaborator of George Lucas and a supremely talented storyteller,” the tweet added.
RIP Gary Kurtz. 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. #ESB #starwars #americangraffiti @starwars pic.twitter.com/0D9RyP3DJH— Peter Mayhew Foundation (@TheWookieeRoars) September 24, 2018
A Twitter account of Elstree Studios, a film studio located just outside of London that was used for the original Star Wars films, also tweeted a tribute to the producer.
Other films produced by Mr Kutz include Return to Oz, 5-25-77, Slipstream, The Steal and Chandler.
Jason Joiner, who worked with Mr Kurtz on archiving Star Wars material, said in a social media post that his “art left lasting impressions on generations of adults and children across the world”.
“We have him to thank for these wonderful memories that he made for us all. Gary Kurtz helped to create the force and it is with us always,” he added.