Gloria Katz, who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay to filmmaker George Lucas’s “American Graffiti” and helped polish the script of his juggernaut “Star Wars,” died Nov. 25 in Los Angeles. She was 76.
Her husband and collaborator, Willard Huyck, confirmed the death and said the cause was ovarian cancer.
The couple shared an Oscar nomination with director Lucas for “American Graffiti” (1973), a nostalgic remembrance of American teenage life in the early 1960s, and secretly doctored his script for “Star Wars” (1977). Last year, Ms. Katz told an entertainment website called the Mary Sue that they shaped Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia into someone who “can take command,” not “just a beautiful woman that schlepped along to be saved.”
They also wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), which Lucas produced.
Gloria Pearl Katz was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 25, 1942. She majored in English at the University of California at Berkeley and then received a master’s degree in film at the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1969, she married Huyck, a college friend of Lucas at the University of Southern California.
In the 2017 interview, she said Lucas wanted her husband “to write about cruising for ‘American Graffiti,’ and I sort of came with the package.”
She said Lucas had “a lot of reservations” about his “Star Wars” script as filming was about to begin.
“He said, ‘Polish it — write anything you want, and then I’ll go over it and see what I need,’ ” she said. “George didn’t want anyone to know we worked on the script, so we were in a cone of silence.”
Ms. Katz said she and Huyck tried to add as much humor as possible and wrote about 30 percent of the film’s dialogue.
She and her husband’s other credits included director Stanley Donen’s “Lucky Lady” (1975), a Prohibition-era comedy starring Gene Hackman, Liza Minnelli and Burt Reynolds; the notorious flop “Howard the Duck” (1986), based on the Marvel Comics series about a beer- and cigarette-loving duck; and “Radioland Murders” (1994), a comic whodunit set in 1939 at a radio station. Lucas helped produce the latter two.
Ms. Katz was on the board of the Writers Guild, was an adviser at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, set to open next year, and served as chairwoman of the Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles.
In addition to her husband, survivors include their daughter, Rebecca; and a brother.
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