After starting life as a cartoonist, Ron Cobb went into production design and worked on some of Hollywood’s greatest movies. He was the man who designed the DeLorean time machine in Back To The Future. Now he has passed at the age of 83.
His wife Robin Love confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter that Cobb died recently from Lewy body dementia in Sydney, Australia. They were married for 43 years.
After joining Disney in 1956 working as a breakdown artist on Sleeping Beauty, Cobb was really noticed when he did uncredited design work on the aliens in the cantina scene in Star Wars. This landed him his breakout gig as the designer of the exterior of the Nostromo on Ridley Scott’s Alien. He also designed a number of the interior sets.
In 1982 he made it as credited Production Designer on Conan the Barbarian in 1982 and was responsible for the look of the world, the armor and the weapons. It was while working on this movie that he met Steven Spielberg at Universal who was working on Raiders Of The Lost Ark. He told the LA Times in 1988:
“I would suggest angles, ideas, verbalize the act of directing by saying ‘Let’s do this and do that, and we could shoot over his shoulder, and then close up the shadow..'”
Cobb was then hired by Spielberg and Universal to direct Night Skies, which eventually became ET: The Extra Terrestrial. Spielberg decided to direct himself and Cobb ended up getting a payout.
Rounding out his lasting effect on pretty much all of our youth, he then went on to be Production Designer on The Last Starfighter before eventually putting pen to paper to design one of the most iconic cars in all of cinema, the DeLorean time machine from Back To The Future.
Godspeed, you magnificent man!