Since its very inception in 1977, it was clear that Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope would constitute a cinematic classic. Through over forty years, the legendary franchise has continued to bring joy to legions of fans and completely reshaped moviegoing and pop culture. Unfortunately, some of the original actors have been lost to death along the way.
After the first installment, the franchise endured and then some, spawning two sequels Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) in the immediate aftermath. Years later, a prequel trilogy hit theaters with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Fans were nowhere near done with the franchise, and it continued with the sequel trilogy, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015), Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), and Star Wars: Episode IX (2019). Finally, the anthology includes Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). That’s not to mention its offshoots, including the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) and the popular Disney + series The Mandalorian, beginning in 2019.
The memory of the actors who lost their lives after filming this iconic series of movies continues to this day. Here is our definitive list of the most beloved actors from the Star Wars franchise who have gone on to new frontiers.
Alex McCrindle famously appeared in the 1977 Star Wars as General Jan Dodonna. The Scottish actor, born in 1911, appeared in other films and TV series, (including All Creatures Great & Small), but his career was largely defined by George Lucas‘ brilliant movie. According to his Wikipedia page, he had three daughters. He died at the age of 78 on April 28, 1990, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
English actor Harry Fielder, born in 1940 in London, was a mainstay of British television and movies throughout the decades of 1960-1990. He played the smaller role of Corporal Grenwick in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. While he never played a major starring role, he worked continuously for years on end, appearing in major studio films including 101 Dalmatians and The Man Who Knew Too Little, among others. He died only a year and a half ago on February 6, 2021, at the age of 80.
English actor Alec Guiness became nothing less than a legend when he played Obi-Wan-Kenobi in the 1977 original Star Wars. The actor, 62 when he took on the role, was honored with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role that year. It would prove to be the only Oscar acting nomination throughout the entire original trilogy. Alec was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2000, and tragically died months later on August 5, 2000. He was also diagnosed with liver cancer just days before his death at age 86.
Alec, a father of one son named Matthew Guiness, (also an actor), was buried in the UK.
British film actor Jack Purvis appeared in A New Hope as Chief Jawa and as Chief Ugnaught in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. Jack had dwarfism, standing at just over 4 feet, 2 inches tall, and was cast in iconic movies including The Dark Crystal, Time Bandits, Willow, and Labyrinth. He became a quadriplegic in 1990 after an auto repair accident tragically left his neck broken, and he died on Nov 21, 1997, in England. He was just 60 years old.
Born in 1920 in Brooklyn, New York, Jason played one of The Empire Strikes Back’s most indelible and memorable characters — without ever showing his face. He was the voice of bounty hunter Boba Fett in the 1980 megahit. He was a prolific actor of stage, film, and television, known well for his role as Harry Snowden on 1970s sitcom All In The Family.
Jason died on Christmas day in 2015 at the age of 95 in the entertainment capital of the world — Los Angeles, California.
Peter Cushing, yet another British actor, appeared in A New Hope in 1977 as Grand Moff Tarkin. He was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor, but his career overall speaks for itself. It spanned across the Hammer Frankenstein and Dracula films, among many others, and when he appeared on the1976 set of A New Hope, he was actually one of the cast’s better known and more established actors. In 1982, the venerable actor was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He pushed through, and ultimately died on August 11, 1994, in England at the age of 81. He had appeared in over 100 films.
It’s likely that Carrie Fisher is among the Star Wars franchise’s most beloved, and most heavily mourned, losses. The daughter of Hollywood legends Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher made her definitive career move as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, and reprised her role in 2015 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and again posthumously in 2017’s The Last Jedi. Unreleased footage of her also appeared in The Rise of Skywalker in 2019.
Carrie’s tragic death came unexpectedly as she was on flight from London to LA on December 23, 2016, and suffered a medical emergency. CPR was performed and she was transported to UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center in LA to be placed on a ventilator. She died at the age of 60 on December 27. Her daughter Billie Lourd, 30, has continued the family legacy in starring roles in Scream Queens and American Horror Story, among others.
Carrie’s mother Debbie, heartbroken by her daughter’s death, famously died of a stroke one day later on December 28. Carrie’s cause of death was determined to be cardiac arrest.
British actor Christopher Lee is an icon many times over. He appeared as the Hammer Dracula, as Saruman in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and of course, as Sith Lord Count Dooku in Attack Of The Clones, Revenge Of The Sith, and The Clone Wars. His voice work in animated projects and video games was as renowned as his physical presence, and his intimidating stature lent gravitas to roles like that of Willy Wonka’s stern dentist father in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.
Christopher experienced heart failure shortly after his 93rd birthday and died at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on June 7, 2015.