Jonathan Rinzler, prolific author under the name J.W. Rinzler of bestselling “making of” books about Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Alien and The Shining, among numerous others, died July 28 at his home in Albion, California, of pancreatic cancer. He was 58.
His death was announced on Twitter today by his daughter Sarah Rinzler.
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“Jonathan passed away on July 28th after a nearly one-year battle with pancreatic cancer,” Sarah Rinzler wrote on her father’s Twitter page. “Thank you to all for your support and love.”
The author of more than 20 books, including The Making of Star Wars, The Complete Making of Indiana Jones and the graphic novel The Star Wars, Rinzler worked with George Lucas as the executive editor at Lucasfilm for 15 years before leaving the company in 2016.
In addition to more than a dozen Star Wars titles – including The Making of The Empire Strikes Back, The Sounds of Star Wars and Star Wars: The Blueprints – Rinzler authored The Making of Planet of the Apes, The Making of Alien and, in 2020, his first novel All Up.
Born in Lakewood, New Jersey and raised in Manhattan and Berkeley, Rinzler studied at New York’s Parsons School of Design before graduating from New York University.
He joined Lucasfilm in 2001 and became the executive editor of its publishing arm Lucasbooks. During his tenure there, he edited and/or wrote an extensive roster of titles, with the 2007 publication of the definitive The Making of Star Wars setting an early and high standard. The book included archival research as well as interviews with key cast and crew.
In July of 2020, Rinzler’s wife Geneviève Rinzler shared the news that the author had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. She survives him, as do daughters Judith and Sarah, his parents, siblings and a grandson. The family requests that any remembrances in Jonathan’s name be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
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