Colin Cantwell, man behind the iconic Star Wars 'Death Star', dies aged 90

Colin Cantwell, man behind the iconic Star Wars 'Death Star', dies aged 90

The man who created a number of iconic Star Wars spacecraft has died aged 90.

Colin Cantwell, a conceptual artist and designer, passed away at his home on 22 May, the Hollywood Reporter confirmed.

Cantwell was most well-known for creating the Death Star, TIE fighter and X-wing Starfighter in the hit 1980s Star Wars film series.

He also worked on landmark films including '2001: A Space Odyssey,' 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and 'War Games'.

Born in San Franciso in 1932, Cantwell was diagnosed with tuberculosis and partial retinal detachment as a child.

His cure to prevent coughing fits was to sit in a dark room with a heavy vest across his chest, Cantwell said in a 'Ask Me Anything' Reddit interview.

“I spent nearly two years of my childhood immobilised in this dark room. Suffice to say, nothing else could slow me down after that,” he said.

While working on '2001: A Space Odyssey', Cantwell said he convinced director Stanley Kubrick not to start the movie with a 20-minute table discussion.

He is credited with creating the notorious opening space scene, which follows the dawn of man and the bone thrown into the air.

Before gracing Hollywood, Cantwell worked at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to help educate the public about flights in the 1960s.

He regularly appeared on US television during the historic moon landing in 1969.

Cantwell operated the communications line between NASA and the astronauts and fed this information to the US anchorman Walter Cronkite, who then broadcast it to the world.

Graduating in animation, Cantwell went to the University of California, Los Angeles and later attended Frank Llyod Wright's School of Architecture.

He wrote two science fiction novels, CoreFires 1 and CoreFires 2, in addition to his film and technical work.

Cantell is survived by his partner of 24 years, Sierra Dall.