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Without the wonderful world of merchandising and comic books that the Star Wars universe has given to the world, the once fledgling sci-fi franchise may have never become the giant it is today. It was all thanks in part to the efforts of people like Charles Lippincott, who served as the advertising publicity sponsor on George Lucas’ 1977 original. Which makes today’s news of Lippincott’s passing all the more bittersweet.
The announcement was made by Charles Lippincott’s widow on his Facebook page, which was then reported via Star Wars fan site Fantha Tracks. Lippincott had been in the hospital for some time, with his passing occurring some time this week, at 80 years of age. While it was previously reported that Charles Lippincott had passed due to complications from COVID-19, a sources close to the Lippincott family came forward and denied that claim.
Charles Lippincott’s contribution to the Star Wars marketing empire came from three crucial partnerships he helped foster in the run up to and subsequent buzz surrounding the first film’s release in the late ‘70s. Not only was Lippincott instrumental to getting Marvel Comics on board to do the tie-in comics for Star Wars, but he also brought in long time book publisher Del Rey to handle the various expanded universe novels that make up most of the long discarded Star Wars Legends canon. Perhaps the greatest partnership that came from Lippincott’s early efforts is that of toy manufacturer Kenner, which signed on to make toys for A New Hope after it was already released in theaters.
All three of those Star Wars partnerships are still in operation to this day, as Kenner’s acquisition by Hasbro has continued the toy-making tradition that started so long ago. Also, Del Rey is still publishing novels both in the canon of official tie-ins and Star Wars Legends side stories, and Marvel Comics regained the Star Wars comics license upon Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm.
But no matter what form these vital enterprises have taken, Charles Lippincott’s strong efforts in the wild west days of George Lucas’ franchise helped make it all happen. It was those skills that also saw Lippincott provide sterling work promoting films such as Alien, Flash Gordon and the original movie that inspired HBO’s hit show Westworld.
Stretching as far as his promotions of Star Wars at 1976’s San Diego Comic Con, as well as his help making the Star Wars Holiday Special a project that would ensure the world would remember the Star Wars brand, this great series owes a life debt to Charles Lippincott. And through the famous, and infamous, examples of the reach for this particular brand, it’s safe to say that Lippincott’s mission was a resounding success.
We here at CinemaBlend would like to extend our sincerest condolences to Lippincott’s surviving family. Without his vision, the world of blockbuster filmmaking would be that much poorer, and his legacy will no doubt live on a long time from now, throughout galaxies local and far, far away.