With the announcement of the core cast for its seventh installment, the Star Wars film series is back in the news once more. A part of American pop culture for almost 40 years, everyone recognizes the iconic figures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo.
But what most might not know is that some of the most identifiable non-human elements from Star Wars such as the robot C-3PO and the helmets of the Stormtroopers were designed by a young woman. Her name? Liz Moore.
Moore began studying sculpture at the Kingston Art School in London when she was 16. That same year, 1960, some of her paintings would be featured as props in the Richard Quine movie The World of Suzie Wong. Moore would go on to complete a National Diploma of Design course, specializing in fine art.
Her first film assignment was Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, for which she created the model for the Star Child, or the cosmic infant into which the movie's protagonist eventually transforms.
(Above, Moore's Star Child in a museum setting.)
Moore's Star Child model was about 2.5 feet tall and made from clay, as were most of her movie prop prototypes. From this clay model, the film's special effects team built a final fiberglass model.
Moore was never officially credited for the Star Child model, but nonetheless Kubrick requested that she work on the props for his movie A Clockwork Orange.
For that film, she made the famous nude female mannequin milk dispensers and tables at the Korova Milk Bar.
(At left, behind the scenes of A Clockwork Orange.)
John Barry, the production designer for A Clockwork Orange, recruited Moore for his next project, a new space opera called Star Wars.
Moore designed the now-iconic android C-3PO based on a full body cast from actor Anthony Daniels, the android's actor and voice.
Daniels described the procedure for the initial cast of his body as thus:
"The manufacturing process began with a rather undignified bath in plaster as they took a mould of my body - rather like being buried alive. I enjoyed having my head done, though ... I felt very safe and secure from the world as the plaster got thicker and the darkness, deeper. Thoughtfully, they'd given me a couple of straws to breathe through. Using the resulting statue of me, the lovely and talented sculptress, Liz Moore, created most of the design by adding modelling clay to the surface of the figure."
Moore also assisted her fellow sculptor Brian Muir in creating the final design for the Stormtrooper helmets.
(At left, a prototype of C-3PO. Image via brianmuirvadersculptor.com.)
Unfortunately, Moore would never live to see her designs on screen in the first Star Wars movie; she died in a car accident in 1976 at the age of 32.
All images except for C-3PO via rspropmasters.com.
For those interested, Moore appears in this brief clip from the British Pathe archives; she appears here at about 00:40.