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.
Very sad news to report tonight. Gloria Katz, who wrote INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM for us with her husband Willard Huyck, has passed away. Our deepest condolences to Mr. Huyck and loved ones. https://t.co/8hS9qiERwm— Amblin (@amblin) November 29, 2018
My friend Gloria Katz just passed away. She was the producer writer of #HowardtheDuck she was funny and wry and beautiful. She also worked on #americangraffiti and #StarWars this photo is from one of the long nights of shooting. #Rip Gloria. And thanks. pic.twitter.com/7ysDQRQBYS— Lea Thompson (@LeaKThompson) November 29, 2018
RIP Gloria Katz. It's a shame she and Willard Hyuck dropped out of writing over 20 years ago, because I loved their snappy, zesty scripts. Radioland Murders is one of my favorites. https://t.co/Js4BQLfEiV— Noel Thingvall (@NoelCT) November 29, 2018
I’ll always unapologetically love Howard the Duck. RIP, Gloria Katz.— Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) November 29, 2018
Had the great privilege of working with her and her husband on a yet to be produced screenplay. A remarkable talent. Kind, generous, witty and supportive. We lost another great one. RIP Gloria https://t.co/eizdhHalKp— Dean Devlin (@Dean_Devlin) November 29, 2018
RIP Gloria Katz. One of Hollywood's secret weapons. Much like Marcia Lucas, she never really got the credit she deserved for her contribution to STAR WARS' creative success. https://t.co/M267Quptya— Joseph O'Brien (@Joseph_OBrien) November 29, 2018
She made Princess Leia into the strong, take no bullshit hero that I needed to see as a kid. What a gift. RIP Gloria Katz. https://t.co/Kccq8VGCuV— Allie Mac Kay (@alliemackay) November 29, 2018
Gloria Katz was not just a gifted screenwriter helping shape iconic movies of a generation, she and her husband Willard Huyck directed great ones too: the horror classic MESSIAH OF EVIL and the underseen FRENCH POSTCARDS. She was also in UCLA film school w/ Jim Morrison. Rad.— Marc Edward Heuck (@the_hoyk) November 29, 2018
If you want to know the true genius of Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck you have to compare the STAR WARS dialogue before and after their subtle but hugely additive contributions. pic.twitter.com/xlii1xAIru— BenDavid Grabinski (@bdgrabinski) November 29, 2018
A secret #StarWars script doctor who, along with husband Willard Huyck, wrote much of the movie's most quotable dialogue, Gloria Katz has sadly died at 76. Together with Williard, she also wrote American Graffiti, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and, yes, Howard the Duck. pic.twitter.com/a6RO5OG7ro— Marshall Julius (@MarshallJulius) November 29, 2018
RIP to Gloria Katz, one of those talented filmmakers whose career was unfairly destroyed because of only one bad movie (Howard the Duck). Messiah of Evil lives in that nether region between sense and nonsense, with images and sequences and vibes that stick to your brain. pic.twitter.com/RwJu840dVU— Matt Prigge (@mattprigge) November 29, 2018