Since today is Star Wars Day, I decided it was time to write this post.
Earlier this year I found out that I have an interesting connection to Star Wars. In researching one of the branches of my family I found out that my Grandfather’s second cousin worked on some of the Star Wars films.You can see in this diagram that William Robert (Bill) Beck was a model maker for ILM. You may not recognize the acronym but it stands for Industrial Light and Magic which was a company started by George Lucas.
In the diagram above Harry Braman is my Grandpa which makes them 2nd cousins.
I wondered why my Grandpa never told me about his cousin. Here is my thought. The Beck family had moved to Minnesota from NW Missouri before Bill was born, so they were probably not as close.
Bill Beck passed away a few years ago. I wish that I had known about him earlier as it would have been wonderful to talk to him about his career.
I have been trying to find out more about his career and what specific models he built for different movies, but information has been hard to find.
Bill Beck is in the IMDb which gives a list of movies he worked on. You can probably tell from the picture above one of the movies he worked on.
Here is a list of the Star Wars movies he worked on:
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back – miniature and optical effects
Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi – visual effects model maker
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – visual effects chief model maker
Did he help create the Death Star?
He also was a model maker for Back to the Future Part II. See the picture of him above. Do you recognize the prop he is showing off?
Other movies that he worked on that you may have watched are:
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
James and the Giant Peach
Maybe this explains why I liked building models when I was a boy and still build with blocks. It must be genetic :-).
Maybe having a pocket full of pens and other items is also a family trait 🙂
If you know more about the career of Bill Beck, please let me know.