Marc Thorpe, ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Star Wars’ VFX Artist, Dies at 77

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Marc Thorpe, the visual effects artist who worked on several “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” films before launching the bot battling competition Robot Wars, has died. He was 77.

Thorpe died Friday of complications related to Parkinson’s Disease, his daughter Megan Feffer shared on Facebook.

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“For him, early onset Parkinson’s disease started out with relatively mild tremors and then over time progressed toward less and less bodily autonomy — something particularly torturous for a fiercely independent artist like my dad whose joy in life was to create things with his hands,” Feffer wrote.

“While the disease itself is not technically considered terminal, it does eventually remove crucial functions like movement and swallowing – functions essential for life,” she continued. “To say the last few months, and especially the last few weeks, were challenging for my dad would be an understatement, and I am grateful that he is finally at peace.”

Thorpe joined George Lucas’ visual effects company, Industrial Light and Magic, in 1979 as a model maker and animatronic designer, and served as a member of the optical effects unit on the 1980 “Star Wars” film, “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Thorpe worked on visual effects for “Return of the Jedi” (1983), as well as the first three “Indiana Jones” movies: “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “The Temple of Doom” (1984) and “The Last Crusade” (1989). He also contributed to such films as “Dragonslayer” (1981), “Poltergeist” (1982), “Explorers” (1985), “Howard the Duck” (1986) and “The Hunt for Red October” (1990).

Born on Nov. 9, 1946, in San Francisco, Thorpe attended Cal State University at Hayward and then graduate school at UC Davis, where he received a master of fine arts degree in 1971.

Thorpe came up with the idea for Robot Wars in 1992 while working as a senior designer for LucasToys, a division of LucasFilm. He left LucasToys in 1994 and produced Robot Wars events until 1997, when he lost creative control to Profile Records. A “Robot Wars” combat competition series was broadcast on British television from 1998 to 2004 and from 2016 to 2018.

In addition to his daughter, Thorpe is survived his grandchildren Evelyn and Elliott Feffer.

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