Irvin Kershner, Director Of ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ Dies At 87

The filmmaker, who also helmed the Bond flick 'Never Say Never Again' and 'Robocop 2,' passed away in Los Angeles.

Irvin Kershner, best known for directing the “Star Wars” sequel [movie id="10587"]“The Empire Strikes Back,”[/movie] has died at the age of 87.

The filmmaker passed away at his Los Angeles home after a long bout with an unspecified illness, his goddaughter Adriana Santini told French news service AFP on Monday.

Born in 1923 in Philadelphia, Kershner studied music, painting and photography before turning his focus to filmmaking in the early 1950s. He got his start directing documentaries in Iran, Greece and Turkey for the United States Information Service, then returned to the States to develop the TV series “Confidential File” and “The Rebel.”

Kershner made his feature directorial debut with “Stakeout on Dope Street” in 1958 and went on to direct a number of well-known films, including 1960′s “Hoodlum Priest” and 1966′s “A Fine Madness,” starring Sean Connery and Joanne Woodward.

In 1980, Kershner directed “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” the sequel to George Lucas’s 1977 space-opera hit, arguably the series’ best-loved and most critically acclaimed installment.

While “Empire Strikes Back” is certainly the film for which Kershner is most fondly remembered, he’s also known for helming 1983′s unauthorized James Bond film “Never Say Never Again” — which saw Sean Connery return to the role of 007 — and 1990′s “Robocop II.”

Kershner did a bit of acting in his day as well. He made his big-screen debut in Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” in 1988, and also appeared as a filmmaker in the 1994 Steven Seagal vehicle “On Deadly Ground.”

At the time of his death, Kershner was still actively working in photography. The Force was strong with this one.