Grant McCune, the visual effects artist who won an Academy Award for his model work for 1977’s Star Wars, died Monday, December 27th of pancreatic cancer at his home in Hidden Hills, CA. McCune was part of the effects team that won the Oscar for creating the breathtaking visuals, joining John Stears, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund and Robert Blalack in receiving the gold statue. In addition to his work on Star Wars, he was also nominated for an Academy Award for 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He was 67.
McCune got his start in special effects when his bachelor’s degree in biology landed him a job designing and building the mechanical shark with Bill Shourt for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Folling his work on Star Wars, McCune joined Dykstra as a partner in Dykstra’s fledgling special effects company Apogee working on over three dozens films including Big, Die Hard, Firefox, Lifeforce, Never Say Never Again, Spaceballs and Caddyshack. He would later form his own company, Grant McCune Design, which contributed to over 20 films including Speed, Batman Forever, U.S. Marshals, Red Planet, Sphere, U-571, Spider-Man and Serenity.