J.W. Rinzler, Prolific Lucasfilm Author, Dies at 58

J.W. Rinzler, Prolific Lucasfilm Author, Dies at 58
J.W. Rinzler and his former boss, George Lucas. (Photo: J.W. Rinzler)

Prolific author and Lucasfilm editor Jonathan Rinzler, better known by his pen name J.W. Rinzler, died July 28 at his home in Northern California after an 11-month long bout with pancreatic cancer, according to a local news outlet. He was 58 years old.

Rinzler was an executive editor at Lucasfilm where he wrote incredibly detailed, fascinating, best-selling books such as The Making of Star Wars, The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, The Making of Return of the Jedi, and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones, just to name a few. These were books that took fans into the closed rooms and sets where people like George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Steven Spielberg, Lawrence Kasdan, and so many others created films and universes that inspired generations. Rinzler told stories and shared documents and photos that otherwise may never have seen the light of day. He was the eyes and ears of an entire world of fans.

Beyond that, he wrote many other Star Wars books, as well as similar books on Aliens and Planet of the Apes, with a new one on The Shining still awaiting publication. He also wrote novels, the most recent of which, All Up, was a fictional/non-fiction hybrid about the race to the moon. io9 was lucky enough to interview the author about the book and his career last year. “I had no real intention of writing until I started working at Lucasfilm,” Rinzler told Gizmodo. “So the whole experience there fostered the idea of writing that’s led from one thing to another. Doing comic books to novels to nonfiction, I’ve been very lucky.” 

A few weeks back Rinzler’s daughter, Sarah, started a GoFundMe for her father when he began making end-of-life plans. And in days, the fans Rinzler delighted for all those years responded, blowing past the goal and giving the family monetary assistance in what would, unfortunately, be his final days. But for everything Rinzler has done for publishing, fandom, and movies in general, money feels almost meaningless. The stories he told have become part of the stories we tell others. He and his work will never be forgotten.

For more on Rinzler’s works, visit his official website.