'Empire Strikes Back' Director Irvin Kershner'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back' director Irvin Kershner has died in Los Angeles at age 87, the Agence France-Presse reports. Goddaughter Adriana Santini said Kershner had faced an illness for some time.

In addition to directing what many regard as the pinnacle of the 'Star Wars' saga, Kershner helmed 'Never Say Never Again' and 'Robocop 2.'

The onetime George Lucas collaborator taught courses in film and photography at the University of Southern California. In an interview later in his life, Kershner spoke of teaching Lucas in the 1960s. "Even then, I could see that he was a very special student," Kershner said. "Not that he had a great eye, but he had vision."

Kershner was born in Philadelphia in 1923; he was a musician and photographer before delving into documentary and eventually feature filmmaking.