He was 87. The director was in his 50s when he was tapped to head the Star Wars sequel. Kershner was a teacher at USC; George Lucas was a student.
The 1980 film was by far the best of the entire series, paving the way for Return of the Jedi and decades later, an entire prequel trilogy that Lucas ruined.
R.I.P. Irvin Kirshner (1923-2010).
While the critically acclaimed, massively successful Empire Strikes Back is certainly the film for which Kershner is best remembered, his credits don't stop there.
He's also known for helming 1983's James Bond film Never Say Never Again, which saw Sean Connery return to the role of 007, Robocop II and other movies.
He did some acting in his day as well, beginning with Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. He was actively working in photography until his death.
May he rest in peace.