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Charles Lippincott, the publicist who helped in the marketing of some of sci-fi’s all-time classics such as Westworld, Alien, and Star Wars, passed away Tuesday night in a hospital in Vermont. He was 80.
Lippincott is best known for his publicity work with Lucasfilm and bringing Star Wars into the mainstream in the late 1970s. In 1975, he became the company’s VP of advertising, publicity, promotion, and merchandising.
It was Lippincott’s idea to team with Marvel Comics to bring the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe to life on the page before they appeared in a theater. In 1976, one year before its release, Lippincott brought Star Wars to San Diego Comic-Con. Star Wars was the beginning of Hollywood’s presence at the convention, which is now known worldwide as the world’s biggest pop-culture convention.
Not only did his choice to bring Star Wars to SDCC change the industry, but he also changed the way movies marketed themselves in general. By trademarking each character from the franchise, 20th Century Fox made millions off of merchandising alone.
Star Wars creator George Lucas had this to say about Lippincott, “Charley was one of the founding pillars of the Star Wars films and phenomenon. He began in earnest the concept of licensing motion pictures at a time when the only other company doing so was Disney. Charley was the one who said early on that ‘we can make this work’ and was the first person to both develop Star Wars licensing and engage with the fans. He had insights into marketing and public relations that were truly unparalleled.”