Ron Cobb, a Designer on Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Alien, Dies at 83

Ron Cobb, a Designer on Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Alien, Dies at 83
Ron Cobb, the designer of so much pop culture iconography, has passed away. (Image: Universal/YouTube/Disney)

Ron Cobb, one of the most prolific and impactful designers in cinema history, died this week at the age of 83.

Cobb is a name that’s well-known to film nerds, but maybe not so much to the general public. That’s wild, considering he worked on some of the most successful and influential films from the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s: Star Wars, Alien, Back to the Future, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Conan the Barbarian, The Abyss, The Last Starfighter, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, to name just a few.

On Star Wars, he designed some of the creatures in the Cantina scene, including the Hammerhead. On Back to the Future, he helped refine the design of the DeLorean to give it the DIY look that made it so memorable. For Alien, he did the exterior and interior of the main setting, the Nostromo. He helped Steven Spielberg come up with the idea for E.T. and had a cameo in the film. He designed all the ships in The Last Starfighter. We could go on and on.

This Twitter thread has a great, great rundown of so much of Cobb’s unforgettable work. It’s staggering.

Before changing cinema as we know it, Cobb got his start as an animator at Disney, working on films such as Sleeping Beauty. He turned that career into being a successful cartoonist for the Los Angeles Free Press, which was then syndicated across the world.

To say Cobb’s unique eye impacts pop culture on a daily basis would be an understatement; you can read more about his amazing life at the Hollywood Reporter. His ideas have inspired generations of artists in all mediums and will continue to do so long after we’re all gone.

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