Princess Leah has passed away

A special person to the Star Wars fan community has passed away.

Leah Esquanazi, better known as Princess Leah, suffered from a mitochondrial disease that caused her to have breathing difficulties and a related disorder that caused blindness. Her parents are big Star Wars fans and are very involved in fandom. When word went out that Leah was ill, the fans rallied to get funds together several times through collections and auctions so that her parents could cover their extensive time away from work and, eventually, the high costs associated with her care.

Even though she struggled with many health problems, her parents tried to give her an active life full of adventures that they chronicled on their blog and Facebook page.

Keep an eye out on their Facebook page for any planned tributes.

Visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen has passed away

Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion animation made monsters come alive in films from the 30’s through the 80’s, has passed away, his family has announced. He was 93.

Stop-motion may be cheesey to those of us who grew up in the post-Star Wars era, but Harryhausen’s work – the most famous of which is perhaps the fighting skeletons of Jason and the Argonauts – was hugely influential. (Though to this 80s’ kid, it’s his Medusa in the original Clash of the Titans who kept me up at night!)

“Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much,” said George Lucas. “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars.”

Film critic Roger Ebert has died

EbertRoger Ebert, perhaps the most well-known film critic of the past several decades, has died after a long battle with cancer, his longtime paper the Chicago Sun-Times has announced.

Only days ago, Ebert posted his last blog entry, annoucing “a leave of presence” and further plans for “Thank you for going on this journey with me,” he wrote. “I’ll see you at the movies.”

Ebert reviewed films for 46 years in the Sun-Times and for 31 on TV. After losing part of his jaw in 2006 and being unable to speak, he turned to the internet. His Twitter account, @ebertchicago, was a must-follow for anyone interested in film.

Ebert, along with his colleague Gene Siskel, was the first film critic I ever knew, and perhaps the only one whose reviews I read consistently. Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, which aired Saturday mornings in Detroit, was a regular staple of my childhood.

And to bring it back to Star Wars… Only weeks ago, a 1983 video of Siskel and Ebert defending Return of the Jedi was making the rounds again. Of course, George Lucas has never been much for critics, and one of the monsters in 1988’s Willow was named “Eborsisk” for the pair. (They weren’t singled out: General Kael got his name from The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael)

Ebert was one of the greats: He could be funny and biting, but classy, plus a truly engaging writer. He will be missed.

Make-up artist Stuart Freeborn has died

Stuart Freeborn

Original trilogy make-up artist Stuart Freeborn has died at age 98, the BBC reports.

Freeborn worked on many celebrated films, including Stanley Kubrick’s Doctor Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but Star Wars fans will know him best as the man who created Chewbacca, Jabba the Hutt and Yoda. He famously based Yoda’s face on Albert Einstein – and himself. writes more about his Star Wars contributions, as well as comment from George Lucas:

“Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on Star Wars,” said George Lucas. “He brought with him not only decades of experience, but boundless creative energy. His artistry and craftsmanship will live on forever in the characters he created. His Star Wars creatures may be reinterpreted in new forms by new generations, but at their heart, they continue to be what Stuart created for the original films.”

Below the cut, a two-part documentary where Freeborn talks about his work.

Continue reading “Make-up artist Stuart Freeborn has died”

Remembering Sally Ride, first American woman in space

Today we say goodbye to a woman who inspired many, if not all of us, in Club Jade.

You can read about her life on her wiki page, her science education company website, or any of the regular news outlets.

Yes, she contributed to science, to the space shuttle program, and to science education.  You’ll read about those at the sites above.

However, it’s the stories you will not read as part of the official record that are the most important when it comes to the impact Sally Ride had on the hearts and minds of children growing up in the 80’s through today. 

Club Jade’s own Paula tweeted earlier today:

I had the honor of meeting Sally Ride when I was twelve. She encouraged me to pursue science so I could follow her to the stars.

My earliest memory of Sally Ride was seeing her picture on a wall in a classroom, with the simple note of “First American Woman in Space – 1983”.  My first report in that class was on her because of that picture and caption and it made me a fan for life.  I wanted to go to space camp, I was driven to learn more about science and technology, and I was absolutely empowered to never let anyone tell me “girls can’t do X”.  All because of Sally’s example.  Thank you Sally Ride, for giving so many of us young girls an example of what we too could achieve.

I’d like to invite you to share how she impacted your life, no matter how small, in the comments below.

Tragedy strikes SDCC: Twilight fan struck, killed by car

There’s been a lot of eyerolling and giggling about the fans who started lining up for Thursday’s Twilight panel on Monday – but it was all (mostly) in good fun. But things took a dark turn today. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that, in a rush to secure her place in line, the woman was crossing Harbor Drive against the light and hit by a SUV.

The Hollywood Reporter identified her as Twitter user @Mad4Hugh, who gives her name as Gisela G. UPDATE: Twilight fandom has set up a fund to help Gisela’s family with funeral expenses.

Comic-Con may very well be amazing – any con can be – but please remember to be safe! Nothing at SDCC, not even your place in line, is worth your life.

Fandom loses one of our own: RIP Racheal Ambrose

It is with great sadness that we found out that night that blogger Racheal Ambrose has passed away. Her husband posted the sad news on her blog The Galactic Drift last night:

I just thought I should inform anyone who knows Racheal online, that she passed away this evening in a car accident at the fault of another.

Racheal did attend Origins for a few days, but we never really got the chance to talk, sadly. Still, I enjoyed her blog and thought she was a fresh new voice in the blogging community.

Racheal tweeted as @reambrose and wrote fanfic under the username FelsGoddess. Tricia at Fangirl, Brian at Tosche Station and Nanci, Mike at TFN, and even Erich at Star Wars Books have written some memorials for her; Feel free to link others in the comments. There’s also some discussion on the Fanfic Lounge thread on the TFN temporary boards.

UPDATE #1: Here’s a news story on the accident, and Racheal’s obituary.

UPDATE #2: Tricia has written a longer post remembering Rachael.

I’ve collected some tweets under the cut.

Continue reading “Fandom loses one of our own: RIP Racheal Ambrose”

The Clone Wars’ Palpatine, Ian Abercrombie, passes away

Ian Abercrombie with Cat Taber and Matt Lanter at a 2010 Clone Wars screening. (Photo by Bonnie Burton for

Character actor Ian Abercrombie, who voiced Palpatine on The Clone Wars, died Thursday at the age of 77.

He may be best known to masses for his role on Seinfeld, playing Elaine’s boss Mr. Pitt. His other credits include Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5, Army of Darkness, and Wizards of Waverly Place.

Dave Filoni wrote a tribute to Abercrombie on Facebook, while several of the Clone Wars voice actors took to Twitter. See what they had to say below the cut.

Continue readingThe Clone Wars’ Palpatine, Ian Abercrombie, passes away”

Original trilogy swordmaster Bob Anderson dies

Bob Anderson, who did Darth Vader’s fighting in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, has died at age 89.

Anderson’s work on the Star Wars films was originally supposed to be a secret, but Mark Hamill outted him in a 1983 interview.

“It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told (director) George (Lucas) I didn’t think it was fair any more,” Hamill told Starlog magazine. “Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It’s ridiculous to preserve the myth that it’s all done by one man.”

An Olympic fencer for Great Britain in 1952, Anderson staged fights, coached actors and worked on stunts for dozens of movies, including Highlander, The Princess Bride, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

UPDATE: Hamill posted a dedication to Anderson on Twitter Tuesday afternoon: