For those who love learning about the history of how their favorite movies are made, a prolific voice has been silenced. We’re very sad to learn that author and Lucasfilm historian J.W. Rinzler (The Making of Star Wars, The Making of The Empire Strikes Back, The Making of Return of the Jedi, The Complete Making of Indiana Jones) has passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 58.

“Jonathan Rinzler was something like Indiana Jones when it came to unearthing film histories,” says an obituary on StarWars.com, and we can’t help but agree. His books felt like diving into the past, with thorough explorations of how some of our most beloved moments, scenes, and characters in cinema came to be.

What’s happening:

  • Celebrated author and former executive editor for LucasBooks, Jonathan W. Rinzler (usually credited as J.W. Rinzler) passed away on July 28 from pancreatic cancer.
  • Rinzler’s best-known works are the The Making of Star Wars trilogy of coffee-table books that were released between 2007 and 2013 in celebration of the original films’ 30th anniversary.
  • He also wrote similar behind-the-scenes tomes such as The Making of The Planet of the Apes, The Making of Alien, and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones (again for Lucasfilm).
  • His final book, entitled Howard Kazanjian: A Producer’s Life, chronicles the career of one of the minds behind Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. It is set for release on September 14.
  • He also wrote a two-part episode of Lucasfilm’s animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars entitled “The Disappeared.”

What they’re saying:

  • George Lucas: “Jonathan was a sure and steady presence across the years as both a writer and executive at Lucasfilm. With his kind and contemplative nature, you could see a glint in his eye, the wheels turning when he had a new idea and a quiet fervor with which he sought out ever more detail for the books he wrote and edited. The works he left behind are touchstones to times and places we can each remember and appreciate in our own way.”
  • Lynne Hale, Vice President of publicity and communications at Lucasfilm: “In addition to being an incredible writer, Jonathan was such a kind and beautiful person. His dedication and passion for preserving our cultural heritage and his deep knowledge of our films make his books extraordinary. The many books he authored while at Lucasfilm can be found on almost every Star Wars director and employees’ bookshelf, and are a constant resource and reminder of who we are as a company and what we continually strive to achieve. Jonathan’s memory will live on within the halls of Lucasfilm, and his kind, generous nature will remain forever in our hearts.”
  • StarWars.com: “Friends and former colleagues mourned the loss as news broke, celebrating Rinzler’s prodigious career. His meticulous research allowed for unvarnished accounts of film history that would have otherwise gone untold. Rinzler’s passion for writing and research was clear in his storytelling, but many remembered his kindness above all else.”

Rinzler with legendary Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie

Rinzler with legendary Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie