David M. Jones, a visual effects supervisor best known for his work on the original Star Wars: A New Hope film, has passed away at the age of 74. The news was confirmed via Jones' ex-wife and lifelong friend, Janice Gerson-Jones, in a report to Variety. Jones passed away at his home in Winnetka, California on April 8th, due to complications related to cancer. His decades-long career in the industry also included contributions to Alien 3, Starship Troopers, and The Hunt for Red October.
"It's with a heavy heart that I share the news that Dave Jones, one of the original ILM model guys and a stand up guy and good friend, passed away last week from a (thankfully) short bout with cancer," fellow model maker Gene Kozicki revealed to Fantha Tracks. "Dave got his start in the business on the original "Star Wars", at first working part time, then full time. He was known as a detail guy and also did painting and weathering on all those ships that have come to influence lives and careers."
Born in Sacramento, California, Jones' love of visual effects began when he bought his first model airplane kit in the first grade. Jones would go on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design from Cal State Long Beach, and began working as a model maker shortly after graduation. This included building models in the miniature and optical effects unit on the original Star Wars, as well as the Space Academy television series. He also served as a special consultant on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and contributed to both the film and television versions of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
Jones would later be promoted to model shop supervisor at Boss Film Studios, a role he held on films such as The Hunt for Red October, Alien 3, Batman Returns, Outbreak, Turbulence, Air Force One, and Starship Troopers, as well as several episodes of Tales from the Crypt. His final project was serving as a model maker on 2004's Team America: World Police.
Additionally, Jones worked on a number of noteworthy commercials, including the Budweiser Bud Bowl Super Bowl advertisements in 1989 and 1990. He also contributed to the "Choose Your Tomorrow" portion of Horizons at Disney World's Epcot theme part.
Jones is survived by Gerson-Jones, and his son, Hunter.
Our thoughts are with Jones' family, friends, and fans at this time.