Following on from the sad news of comedy legend Leslie Nielsen’s passing comes word that Irvin Kershner has died at his home in Los Angeles, aged 87. The American filmmaker – best known for directing the all-time classic Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, was born Philadelphia in 1923 and after serving in World War II he began his career teaching photography at USC School of Cinematic Arts while studying film under montage artist Slavko Vorkapi.
Kershner made his feature film debut with the crime film Stakeout on Dope Street (1958) and honed his skills directing television shows such as The Rebel (1959), Philip Marlowe (1959) and Peyton Place (1964). Through-out the 60s and 70s Kersh collaborated with the likes of Sean Connery, Faye Dunaway, Richard Harris, Tommy Lee Jones, George C. Scott, Robert Shaw and Barbra Streisand with credits including The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1964), A Fine Madness (1966) and Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), along with the critically acclaimed TV movie Raid on Entebbe (1977).
Linking up with Star Wars creator George Lucas, Kershner delivered one of the greatest cinematic experiences of all-time in 1980 with The Empire Strikes Back, which is regarded by many as the highlight of the epic saga. Kersh went on to direct twice just more, reuniting with Sean Connery for the 1983 Bond remake Never Say Never Again and taking over the reigns from Paul Verhoeven for Robocop 2 (1990), his legacy having been firmly established.