Hollywood is mourning the death of long-time George Lucas collaborator Gloria Katz, who lost her battle to ovarian cancer this past weekend. The Associated Press reports that Katz passed away while receiving medical care at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 25.
The timing of Katz passing was unfortunate, to say the least, as the date marked the 49th anniversary of her marriage to director, producer, and screenwriting partner Willard Huyck, according to Legacy. Huyck was a classmate and friend of Lucas’ at the University of Southern California, thus opening the door for Katz to exercise the skills she picked up as a film student at UCLA, after they met. Together, the wedded tandem would go on to pen the screenplays to several Lucas films, starting with the 1973 blockbuster American Graffiti, which followed their entry into the industry on the back of their co-written, co-directed, and co-produced feature, Messiah of Evil, earlier that same year.
As the Hollywood Reporter cites in its reporting of on her career, Katz went on to work with her husband in the production of films like French Postcards in 1979, Best Defense in 1984, and Howard the Duck in 1986. They also continued their strong collaborative work with writing credits for the likes of Stanley Donan in 1975’s Lucky Lady, and Steven Spielberg on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984. But Katz and Huyck’s legacy was, for the most part, cemented in their contributions to Lucas’ work, as was evident in their Oscar nomination for American Graffiti, and the legendary part they played as script doctors for the original Star Wars flick.
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During a 2017 interview with The Mary Sue, Katz spoke on what it was like for Lucas to tap her as an ideal scribe to craft the personality that Star Wars lovers would come to know Princess Leia to embody.
“George was writing the script and he had a lot of reservations about it, but he knew filming had to start. He said, ‘Polish it – write anything you want and then I’ll go over it and see what I need,'” Katz said, noting that she and Huyck had taken on an oath of silence about the role they played, so as to allow Lucas to take full credit for his brainchild.
“We just tried to help with the characterization, to add as much humor as possible,” she went on to say, before estimating that she wrote about 30 percent of the movie’s dialogue with Huyck.
Up until her death, Katz continued to work in Hollywood as the Chair of the Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles and a board member with the Writers Guild of America. She was 76-years-old.