Academy Award nominated screenwriter Gloria Katz has passed away. She was 76-years old. The screenwriter had been battling ovarian cancer and died Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Katz is best-known for her work on George Lucas' American Graffiti, but she and her husband also worked on Star Wars as uncredited script doctors, helping Lucas to give the dialogue some extra humor, while also shaping the Princess Leia character into the beloved character that she is today.
Gloria Katz originally attended UC Berkeley as an English major and later transferred to UCLA to get her graduate degree in history. However, she later changed her mind and received her master's degree in film during the late 1960s. She was one of four women in the program along with fifty men, noting that she and the other women were looked down upon by professors at the time. However, she put her head down and focused on experimental projects and watched The Doors play, since they were the unofficial school band.
In 1969, Gloria Katz's husband Willard Huyck met George Lucas and struck up a friendship, which proved to be very fruitful for the couple. They started their screenwriting work on 1973's Messiah of Evil and then worked on American Graffiti in 1973 with Lucas, and Katz recently looked back at the time with fondness, but noted that the filming schedule was pretty intense, lasting only 28 days. However, the team ended up with an Academy Award nomination for their troubles. According to the screenwriter, Lucas was later pretty stressed out about getting Star Wars ready. Katz had this to say about working with Lucas on the iconic movie.
"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. George didn't want anyone to know we worked on the script, so we were in a cone of silence."
It has been estimated that Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck wrote about thirty percent of the dialogue in Star Wars. From there, the team went on to write French Postcards, Best Defense, and Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom. Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, declined to write the sequel, so Katz and Huyck were brought on board to replace Kasdan. The screenwriting duo took influence from the 1939 movie Gunga Din.
Next up for Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck was 1986'sHoward the Duck. Huyck was also on board as director, while Katz serves as producer as well. The Lucasfilm project was widely torn apart by critics and didn't do very well at the box office. However, the movie has gone on to earn cult status over the years. The couple stopped writing together in 1994, with Radioland Murders as their final movie. Katz was also on the board of the Writers Guild of America and an advisor at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is scheduled to open next year. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to announce Gloria Katz's death. Rest In Peace, Gloria Katz.