Irvin Kershner

Photography and art were the launching pads for director Irvin Kershner's career; he studied both extensively as well as tackled documentaries in the 1950s before making his feature debut with "Stakeout on Dope Street" (1958), a gritty crime drama for producer Roger Corman, which in turn led to numerous jobs on episodic television and in more independent features. Kershner's feature work was distinguished by his ability to mine realistic and intimate human drama from his stories, and for finding idiosyncratic takes on nearly every genre - from comedies like "A Fine Madness" (1966) and intimate dramas such as "Loving" (1970), to horror flicks like "The Eyes of Laura Mars" (1978) and historical adventures including "The Return of a Man Called Horse" (1976). His biggest box office success was the "Star Wars" sequel, "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980), which benefited greatly from his mature direction. Kershner also maintained side careers as a producer, educator and occasional actor, but it was his work helming the darkest and most critically lauded of the "Star Wars" trilogy that would be his greatest legacy.