Charley Lippincott, who George Lucas hired in late 1975 to join the first Star Wars production as Vice President of Advertising, Publicity, Promotion & Merchandising, has sadly passed away.
“Charley was one of the founding pillars of the Star Wars films and phenomenon,” says George Lucas. “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.”
Charley is widely credited for setting the trajectory of Star Wars fandom with his grassroots-style convention presentations beginning in 1976, well before the release of the first film. Those early appearances included Mark Hamill, who accompanied Charley on a promotional tour for Star Wars starting in 1976.
“He became a legend of marketing for a reason,” says Hamill. “He was brilliant at what he did. We traveled the world together promoting Star Wars before anyone knew what it was. He was a good friend and I’ll always miss him.”
The convention appearances resulted in movie theaters welcoming large crowds of fans on Star Wars’ opening day, due in large part to Charley’s early promotional efforts. In addition, Charley sought out the very first comic book and toy deals with Marvel and Kenner (Hasbro) respectively, two iconic legacies that continue to this day.
Before moving on in 1978 to promote the first in another space fantasy franchise – 1979’s Alien – Charley had left behind a number of memorable Star Wars tie-in promotions and traditions that are still warmly remembered by fans to this day, including the formation of the original Star Wars Fan Club with Lucasfilm’s then Head of Fan Relations, Craig Miller.
Star Wars fandom owes a great debt to Charley Lippincott, and we will miss him dearly. The Force will be with him, always.
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