George Jenson, an Oscar-nominated art director and production illustrator who worked on such films as Return of the Jedi, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, has died. He was 87. The Art Directors Guild said today that he died May 25 of cancer.
Jenson began his four-decade career as a production illustrator and storyboard artist at 20th Century Fox Studios, working for producer Irwin Allens series Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants. He then segued to Filmation Associates, where he was a layout artist and illustrator on the TV toons Star Trek: The Animated Series, Lassies Rescue Rangers, Mission: Magic! and My Favorite Martians from 1972-75.
Pivoting to big-screen fare, Jenson worked as a production illustrator or storyboarder on a number of hit films ranging from Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1941 to Terminator 2 and Home Alone 2 to The Perfect Storm and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. He also was ILM’s production illustrator on 1983’s Return of the Jedi, the final film in the original Star Wars trilogy.
Jenson also was the visual effects art director on 2010, the 1984 film about a joint U.S.-Soviet mission to Jupiter. He shared a Best Visual Effects Oscar nomination for the film but lost to the team from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. During that era he also worked on such films as Big Trouble in Little China, Everybody’s All American and the Bill Cosby-led Leonard Part 6. His 1990s credits include The Rocketeer, Thinner, Shadow Conspiracy, In Dreams and Dr. Dolittle 2. He retired in 2003 after serving as production illustrator on Master and Commander.
Born on June 24, 1930 in Calgary, AB, Jenson moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was 6. After serving in Germany for the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he attended the Art Students League in New York City on the G.I. Bill.
Jenson is survived by his wife, Susie; and three children from previous marriages, Karen, Eric and Brian Jenson.