Ron Cobb, the iconic production designer and artist who worked on the original Star Wars and Back to the Future, has died. He was 83. Cobb passed away of Lewy body dementia in Sydney, Australia. The news was confirmed by his wife, Robin Love. Cobb died on his birthday.
Though Ron Cobb did not amass a huge list of credits during his time in the movie business, his work has gone on to inspire some of the most influential and enduring works in cinema. Some of his most enduring contributions exist in a galaxy far, far away, as Cobb designed several iconic creatures that appeared in George Lucas’ seminal 1977 sci-fi movie Star Wars: A New Hope. The official Star Wars social media accounts paid tribute to Cobb by sharing a sketch of Momaw Nadon, one of the memorable background characters from the Mos Eisley cantina scene in A New Hope. The art was shared with the following message.
“We were saddened to learn of the passing of conceptual designer Ron Cobb, who designed one of the most memorable characters in the Mos Eisley cantina, Momaw Nadon. He also contributed to E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien, Back to The Future, and many more. He will be missed.”
One of Ron Cobb’s other great contributions to pop culture was crafting the initial designs for Doc Brown’s time traveling DeLorean in the Back to the Future franchise. Cobb also contributed to other great works, such as Ridley Scott’s timeless 1979 sci-fi/horror classic Alien. Specifically, Cobb contributed to the look of the Nostromo, the ship where the Xenomorph laid waste to Ripley’s crew. Star Wars icon Mark Hamill took to Twitter to pay his respects to Cobb.
“Ron Cobb was a giant in his field. His impact on sci-fi & fantasy films is immeasurable. Thank you for a lifetime of brilliant contributions & your incomparable imagination.”
Additionally, Rob Cobb worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark with Steven Spielberg. Later, the iconic director would resurrect one of Cobb’s ideas to craft the story for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which was originally a movie titled Night Skies that Cobb was possibly going to direct. Cobb ended up with a cameo in the movie as a doctor and it remains one of Spielberg’s most beloved works. Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me host Peter Segal shared the following anecdote about Cobb relating to E.T.
“My fave Ron Cobb story: he did some preliminary work on ET, and when he was let go, signed a release that gave him a token 1% of the net profits. (In H’llywd, there are no net profits.) His wife noticed it, sent it to Universal, and got a check back for $400,000.”
Some of Ron Cobb’s other credits include Conan the Barbarian, The Last StarfighterThe Abyss and Dark Star. Cobb’s only directorial credit is 1992’s Garbo. May he rest in peace. Cobb is survived by his wife and son, Nicky. The news of Cobb’s passing was confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter.