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Howard G. Kazanjian (born July 26, 1942) is an American film producer known for Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Kazanjian also was Vice President of Lucasfilm, Ltd., and is a published non-fiction author.

Howard Kazanjian
Howard G. Kazanjian

(1942-07-26) July 26, 1942 (age 77)
Los Angeles County, CA
OccupationFilm producer, author
Years active1968–present
Spouse(s)Carol Anne Eskijian
AwardsEmmy Award, 1982
Inkpot Award, 1982
Briner Impact Award, 2009
Honorary Marshal - Dodge City, Kansas, 2009


As Lucasfilm's Vice President of Production, Howard Kazanjian was intimately involved in the day-to-day strategic and practical operations of Lucasfilm during the times immediately after the 1977 release of Star Wars until approximately 1984 or 1985.[1][2]

Early yearsEdit

Kazanjian graduated from the University of Southern California. While there he first met a young George Lucas, and they became not only Delta Kappa Alpha cinema fraternity brothers but also long standing friends. They were members of a clique of filmmakers known to the Hollywood system and the university circuit as The Dirty Dozen. During those college years, Kazanjian and Lucas both met their respective future wives, and the couples would often double date.

Kazanjian's early credits include being First Assistant Director on Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot and Second Assistant Director on Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. He later worked with director Robert Wise on his production of The Hindenburg.

Raiders and Star WarsEdit

Kazanjian moved into film production rather than directorial work at Hitchcock's suggestion and is most notable for having served as executive producer on Raiders of the Lost Ark and producer on Return of the Jedi, two of the biggest films of all time. For Jedi he came up with the idea of shooting the production under a fake name, Blue Harvest, in order to forestall any attempts at price gouging by suppliers. Blue Harvest was purported to be a horror film with the tag line "horror beyond imagination". Hats and T-shirts were printed up for the crew to wear and to further add to the authenticity of the ruse.[3]

Kazanjian is also recognized as an uncredited producer on The Empire Strikes Back, replacing producer Gary Kurtz midway through the production.[4][5]

Later yearsEdit

Kazanjian has authored books with Chris Enss. In 2004, they collaborated on The Cowboy and the Senorita: A Biography of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans ISBN 0-7627-3053-6 and Happy Trails: A Pictorial Celebration of the Lives of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans ISBN 0-7627-3089-7; In 2006, The Young Duke: The Early Life of John Wayne ISBN 0-7627-3898-7; in 2009, Thunder over the Prairie: The True Story of a Murder and a Manhunt by the Greatest Posse of All Time ISBN 0-7627-4493-6.[6]

Kazanjian has been an instructor at "Act One", a group designed to train Christians entering into film and television,[7] and was named by Beliefnet as one of the twelve most powerful Christians in Hollywood.[8]

Of Armenian descent, Kazanjian is an active member of the Armenian charity and cultural community, and a USC alumnus.[9]

Since 1998 Kazanjian has been Co-Chairman and 50% shareholder of Tricor Entertainment, Inc, an independent production company, which owns and operates a 19,000+ seat theater chain in Southeast Asia and a film distribution company.[10][11]

Kazanjian lives and works in the community of San Marino, California with his wife Carol, and three children, Peter, Noah, and Andrew. Fellow filmmaker BWL Norton, with whom he worked on More American Graffiti, jokingly described Kazanjian as being "like, from Mars" in a 1980 interview.

As of 2016, Kazanjian and George Lucas remain close friends.[citation needed]


Awards & HonorsEdit

  • 1982 Emmy award for The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark [12]
  • 1982 Inkpot Award winner [13]
  • 2009 Briner Impact Award[14]
  • On June 8, 2009, Howard Kazanjian was deputized as an Honorary Marshal of Dodge City, Kansas.[15]


External linksEdit