X-wing Starfighter, TIE fighter, and Death Star concept artist Colin Cantwell have died at his Colorado home, longtime partner Sierra Dall confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He had reached the age of ninety-nine. Aside from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and WarGames (1998), Cantwell has worked on several other films as well (1983). Even so, he is best known for his work on Star Wars, including the X-wing, the TIE fighter, the Star Destroyer, and the Death Star prototypes.
On the day of his birth, Cantwell was diagnosed with TB and a partial retinal detachment, which kept him from going to school. On Reddit, he claimed to have found the solution for his coughing episodes by being locked in a dark room with a heavy vest across his chest in 2016. This gloomy room held me, hostage, for two years of my youth, and I’ll never forget it. As a result of that, “nothing could hold me back!” he stated.
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Frank Lloyd Wright personally asked Cantwell to attend his School of Architecture after he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in animation. On his website bio, Colin Cantwell reveals that he had a long and successful career before he made it to Hollywood. At NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Colin Cantwell developed instructional initiatives for the general public to comprehend the space competition of the 1960s better.
When Walter Cronkite broadcast the historic moon landing in 1969, Cantwell served as a source of information. That information was relayed to Cronkite, who in turn broadcast it live throughout the world, using Cantwell’s communications channel with NASA. Cantwell’s interest in architecture and his obsession with space made him an ideal candidate for a career in Hollywood, where he worked on numerous space projects, the first of which was 2001: A Space Odyssey, for which he received his first credit.
I convinced Stanley Kubrick not to start the movie with a 20-minute conference table conversation,” the director revealed during his AMA. Cantwell was the one responsible for the striking opening of the stage after the emergence of man and the flinging of bone into the air.
WarGames inspired Colin Cantwell to develop software that took the Hewlett Packard monitors from a few colors to 5,000 colors, a result of his work on the NORAD screens as the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) computer nearly launched nuclear bombs. Cantwell has written two science fiction novels, CoreFires 1 and CoreFires 2, in addition to his cinematic work. Sierra Dall, Cantwell’s companion of 24 years, is the only surviving family member.