Veteran film publicist Charles Lippincott, best known for handling the marketing campaign for George Lucas’ “Star Wars: A New Hope,” died Tuesday after being hospitalized in Vermont last week for a heart attack. He was 80.

Lippincott’s wife, Bumpy, shared the news on social media.

Lippincott joined Lucasfilm in 1975 as vice president of advertising, publicity, promotion and merchandising. He’s credited with organizing extensive promotion of the first “Star Wars” movie prior to its release in 1977 with a grass-roots campaign aimed at science-fiction fans and younger moviegoers. Those moves included publicizing the then-unknown star Mark Hamill, who accompanied Lippincott on a promotional tour starting in 1976.

The marketing guru also brought “Star Wars: A New Hope” to the San Diego Comic Con, a formerly small convention that soon became a destination for Hollywood blockbusters and fandoms.

“Charley was one of the founding pillars of the “Star Wars” films and phenomenon,” said Lucas in a statement. “He began in earnest the concept of licensing motion pictures at a time when the only other company doing so was Disney. Charley was the one who said early on that ‘we can make this work’ and was the first person to both develop “Star Wars” licensing and engage with the fans. He had insights into marketing and public relations that were truly unparalleled.”

Hamill shared a a statement on the official “Star Wars” blog. “He became a legend of marketing for a reason,” he said. “He was brilliant at what he did. We traveled the world together promoting “Star Wars” before anyone knew what it was. He was a good friend and I’ll always miss him.”

Lippincott also worked on campaigns for Michael Crichton’s “Westworld,” Alfred Hitchcock’s “Family Plot,” Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and “Flash Gordon.”  He was a producer on Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 sci-fi classic “Judge Dredd.”