Roger Kastel, the artist behind the iconic film posters for Jaws and Empire Strikes Back, has died at the age of 92.
He died on Wednesday in Worcester County, Massachussetts, according to a statement shared on his official website.
Kastel illustrated paperback book covers and film covers for around 40 years, after getting his first paid art job at the age of 15.
The Gone With the Wind-inspired poster for the first Star Wars sequel and the iconic shark painting for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, first created for the novel by Peter Benchley, were just two of more than 1,000 images he made throughout his career.
Kastel created the artwork for the paperback edition of Benchley’s book following Paul Bacon’s hardback illustration, which was black and white, and was inspired after visiting the American Museum of Natural History in New York to photograph the fish there.
Universal Studios purchased the rights to use the image for the movie, which was released in 1975. Instantly recognisable, Jaws still regularly tops polls of the greatest film posters of all time.
“While Jaws and The Empire Strikes Back may be the most widely recognised of his work, Roger received multiple awards for various other illustrations and fine art over the years,” the tribute on his website read.
Kastel’s works also included the posters for films including Doctor Faustus, starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and The Great Train Robbery, starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland, as well as covers for novels such as Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives.
Dean Newman, head of content for fan site The Daily Jaws, was among those paying tribute, writing: “Kastel’s ability to distill the essence of a movie into a single image was unparalleled.
“The Jaws poster captured the primal fear associated with the unknown lurking beneath the ocean’s surface, setting a new standard for movie marketing. The image not only contributed to the film’s success but also solidified Kastel’s reputation as a master of visual storytelling.”
The artist is survived by Grace, his wife of 66 years, their children Beth and Matthew, and four grandchildren and a great-grandson.
“Roger truly loved the art world; paintings, artists, art museums, and galleries,” his tribute read. “Early in their relationship, Roger informed Grace, ‘Art is my life’, and it was!”
Kastel was a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Artists’ Fellowship, the Kent Art Association and the Portrait Society.
His family is raising money for the fellowship, a charity that assists professional artists in times of emergency, disability, or bereavement, in his memory.