Filmmaker Irvin Kershner died at age 87 Saturday after a three year battle with lung cancer. Kershner began making documentaries for the U.S. Information Service in the early ’50s. After working in television, he co-scripted and directed his first feature, the crime drama Stakeout on Dope Street, for executive producer Roger Corman. Kershner started to make a name for himself in the mid ’60s with the Brian Moore adaptation The Luck of Ginger Coffey, the romantic satire A Fine Madness, and the marital-crisis drama Loving. However the director is best known for his big-budget action and adventure films such as The Empire Strikes Back, the James Bond film Never Say Never Again, and RoboCop II.
Star Wars creator/producer/director George Lucas issued a touching statement in memory of Kershner.
The statement was released on StarWars.com:
“The world has lost a great director and one of the most genuine people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing,” says Lucas. “Irvin Kershner was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. When I think of Kersh, I think of his warmth, his thoughtfulness and his talent. I knew him from USC — I attended his lectures and he was actually on the festival panel that gave the prize to my THX short. I considered him a mentor. Following Star Wars, I knew one thing for sure: I didn’t want to direct the second movie myself. I needed someone I could trust, someone I really admired and whose work had maturity and humor. That was Kersh all over. I didn’t want Empire to turn into just another sequel, another episode in a series of space adventures. I was trying to build something, and I knew Kersh was the guy to help me do it. He brought so much to the table. I am truly grateful to him. He was a friend as well as a colleague. He will be missed.”