Ron Cobb, the legendary concept artist and designer whose work permeated many iconic sci-fi and fantasy films of the 1970s and 1980s, has passed away at the age of 83 on his birthday in Sydney, Australia. According to his wife, the cause of death was Lewy body dementia.
A one-time Disney animator turned underground cartoonist, Cobb entered the film industry with a bang in 1977 as a creature designer for the original Star Wars, where he was responsible for many of the aliens seen in the film's famous Mos Eisley Cantina sequence.
Among his most famous designs were the Nostromo in Alien (1979) and the LV-426 colony in its 1986 sequel, the swords of Conan the Barbarian (1982), and the spacecraft of The Last Starfighter (1984). A friend and collaborator of Steven Spielberg, he was at one point attached to direct the film that would eventually become E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). But surely his most enduring design was for the DeLorean time machine in the original Back to the Future (1985), created after several other designs (including a refrigerator) were rejected.
Besides his film and art work, Cobb also worked with video game developer Rocket Science Games, and co-wrote several episodes of the 1980s reboot of The Twilight Zone with his wife. In 1992, he directed his first and only feature film, Garbo, which featured the Aussie stand-up duo Los Trios Ringbarkus.
Cobb was born in Los Angeles, California in 1937, and worked as a cartoonist for the underground newspaper the Los Angeles Free Press while also designing cover art for bands like Jefferson Airplane. It was during this time that he designed the "Ecology symbol", which would later be adopted by environmental causes the world over. In 1972, he moved to Australia, where he would remain for the rest of his life and eventually gain citizenship. It was there that he met and married his wife Robin Love, to whom he stayed married until his death.
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