Mark Hamil and Star Wars officially confirmed Cobb’s passing on Monday. He died of Lewy body dementia in Sydney, Australia.
“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,” said a tweet from the official Star Wars account Monday.
The Los Angeles native and sci-fi production juggernaut was born on September 21, 1937. He began dabbling in graphic illustration when he was 18 and landed an animation job at Disney’s Burbank studios.
About 10 years later, Cobb worked on the animation giant’s 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. Not long after, Cobb served in the Vietnam War as a draughtsman.
Upon his homecoming, the animator tried his hand at political cartoons for a number of publications including the Los Angeles Free Press and Mother Earth News.
One of his first returns to the entertainment industry following his time in service was as a special effects artist for the 1974 film Dark Star. Throughout the ’70s, Cobb went on to work a number of titles, from smaller sci-fi projects to blockbusters.
In 1977, Cobb helped construct the iconic Mos Eisley Cantina for the original Star Wars by creating one of its alien patrons Momaw Nadon. He later went on to serve as a concept artist for Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Alien in 1979.
Cobb’s production design credits at the time included Conan the Barbarian and Raiders of the Lost Ark. His most last claim to fame, however, came in 1985.
In the Robert Zemeckis-directed Back to the Future, Doc Brown and Marty McFly hop into the souped-up, time-traveling DeLorean — a product of Cobb’s work and symbol of the beloved sci-fi film series.
In 1992, following years’ worth of art department work, Cobb tried his hand at directing with the Australian slang comedy Garbo.
Cobb’s most recent projects included Southland Tales, Firefly and The 6th Day.
Survivors are his wife Robin Love and son, Nicky.
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. #RIPRonCobb https://t.co/1muckonjaS
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) September 22, 2020