Norman Reynolds, 1934-2023, {image via Lucasfilm}

Oscar-winning visual designer Norman Reynolds, known for his work on the original Star Wars trilogy and Raiders of the Lost Ark, has passed away at the age of 89. Unless you’re an eagle-eyed credits watcher, you might have not seen his name before (production and art designers never achieve the fame of actors and directors), but you’ve certainly seen his work. He was responsible for the boulder rolling down toward Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark, for Jabba the Hutt’s sail-barge in Return of the Jedi. for the swamps of Dagobah as well as Echo Base on Hoth for The Empire Strikes Back.

William Norman Reynolds was born March 26, 1934 in London, England, UK. He died April 2023 with his wife and daughters at his side. The death was announced April 6 that he had died the preceding weekend.

When asked the best way to die, the late Sir Iain Moncrieffe of that Ilk replied, “Sword in hand at the foot of the steps of Buckingham Palace.” While that would certainly be one of the best ways to die, what Reynolds did, dying of old age after a long and full life, with his loved ones by his side, and knowing one had earned the respect of his peers, is certainly a good way to go, which many of us might aspire to.

Deadline reported “Reynolds received his first Oscar for the production design of 1977’s Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), sharing the trophy with John Barry, Leslie Dilley, and Roger Christian (Reynolds served as art director on the film). Reynolds took his second Oscar, this time as production designer, for Raiders, sharing the award with Leslie Dilley and Michael D. Ford.”

In 1982, Reynolds won both the BAFTA and the Oscar for Best Production design for Raiders of the Lost Ark, sharing both awards with colleagues Leslie Dilley and Michael D. Ford.

His production design credits include, among others, Mission: Impossible (1996), Alive (1993), Alien 3 (1992), Avalon (1990), Empire of the Sun (1987), Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), Return to Oz (1985) Return of the Jedi (1983) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

As art director, his credits include Superman II (1980), Superman (1978), and Lucky Lady (1975).

Reynolds directed two episodes of the television show Amazing Stories. He was a second unit director on Alive (1993) and Exorcist III (1990).

His family released a statement that “Norman was a cherished husband, father, father-in-law, granddad and great grandad.” No man can ask for a better epitaph.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress ”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.