May the Force be with him. Best known for a brief but classic role as Admiral Motti in the original 1977 Star Wars film, actor Richard LeParmentier died at age 66 on Tuesday, April 16 in Austin Tex., his family announced. No cause of death was given, and his publicist told the Associated Press that the passing was unexpected.
LeParmentier entered film history forever in the first George Lucas film in the Star Wars saga -- when his character became one of the very first victims of a vengeful Darth Vader. In an unforgettable scene, Motti dares speak against Vader, dissing his "sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion." To retaliate, Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) snipes, "I find your lack of faith disturbing," and calmly uses "The Force" to place a fatal chokehold on Motti.
The Pittsburgh-born actor's three children Rhiannon, Stephanie and Tyrone LeParmentier said in a statement: "At age 66, Richard Le Parmentier is one with the Force. We're deeply grateful to the many devoted fans who have posted personal remembrances of our dad as a warm, genuine person with an unparalleled joie de vivre and gift for friendship (not to mention a mean petanque player)."
Although based in Bath, England, Pittsburgh-born LeParmentier was visiting with relatives at the time of his sudden passing. Among his other major film credits: Superman II, Octopussy and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
"To his fans and friends, his lines were the ultimate power in the universe. He absolutely loved traveling the world and meeting his friends and fellow Star Wars fan[s]," the family continued. He was married to Superman II costar Sarah Douglas from 1981 to 1984.