I have watched the Star Wars Holiday Special one-time only and that’s the way it will probably stay.
If I have two memories of the film, it’s Princess Leia and the gang singing a terrible song about ‘Life Day’. The other is the awesome cartoon contained within the movie that shows Boba Fett riding some kind of dinosaur.
That was awesome.
However, the film should really be named as ‘George Lucas’ Folly’ for it was huge misstep.
Legend has it that Lucas is quite embarrassed about it now and I think noted Star War novelist Kevin J. Anderson’s quote sums it up best:
"Well, I know that George Lucas doesn't like it at all—when I was working on The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, he told me that he would be happy if every copy could be tracked down and burned..."
So there we have it. The movie should be burned.
But hold on. There’s some gold in the TV’s most infamous Christmas Special, so let’s have a look a look at what glitters….
But first we have to get this piece of trivia out of the way:
Chewbacca has a son called Lumpy. He’s travelling to see him so they can celebrate ‘Life Day’ together.
Feel free to quit reading this article now as we cannot top this fact!
- The show aired in the US on November 17, 1978, on CBS for the first and only time.
- Jefferson Starship, a very popular band at the time, released a single of "Light the Sky on Fire" that proclaimed "as seen and heard on the CBS-Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s bloody awful.
- Given it's canon (!!!) the Special is the first time the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk for the first time. The next time we saw this was in Revenge of the Sith when Yoda visited to help with the Clone War.
- Future Golden Girl Bea Arthur played Ackmena a gruff bartender at the Mos Eisley Cantina. This was an opportunity for her to sing a song but frankly the best part of this moment is the chance to see some of the original bar flies that were visiting the Catina in ANH for a longer period.
- If you’ve actually gone an watched the show, you’ll have noticed that the Wookies lived in giant wooden houses at built into trees. This idea originally came from the design work of the legendary Ralph McQuarrie – the guy that did all the original concept design work for A New Hope.
- Future King of Comedy Richard Pryor has a part as a bar tender as well! From behind the bar he answers the phone in the manner as part of gag with some alien creatures.
|Bea Arthur and her Cantina friends.|
- The show was probably the only variety special in American television history to feature a sex simulator scene. Chewbacca’s father engages in what could be described as holographic phone sex using a device called The Mind Evaporator. The sexy holographic lady was played by Diahann Carroll who at the time was well known for her Julia television series and the film Claudine. Watch from this moment and enjoy the trippy ride and ‘just relax, just relax’.
- Lucas didn’t really have too much involvement in the project – he helped sketch out an initial story and the producers took it over and went nuts and turned it into a variety show. Well, they had to have been nuts right?
- Chewbacca’s father is named Attichitcuk and his wife is called Mallatobuck. His son Lumpy’s proper name is Lumpawarrump.
- The Happy Life Day song by Princess Leia is based on John William’s original Star Wars theme tune.
- The special formally only aired one time in the United States in a date that will live in infamy, being 17 November 1978. To put that in historical context, the day after the horrific Jonestown Massacre occurred.
- Film industry legend Stan Winston created the Wookiee family.
- The Chewbacca family could wear their costumes for 45 about minutes due to the heat generated when wearing them. Then they’d have the heads taken off, and be given oxygen and fluid.
- The Boba Fett cartoon sequence was nine minutes long as was intended to be used to introduce the character that would be making an appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. The animation is considered to be quite good and the only truly redeeming thing about the Holiday Special.
- It’s called “The Faithful Wookie”. Watch it here.
- The style of the sequence was modelled on the work of Jean “Mobieus” Geraud, a popular French artist. This was apparently at the request of George Lucas. This is where it gets interesting. If you think back to the Imperial Probe Droid that finds the Rebels on the Hoth planet in Empire, you might be surprised (or not!) to learn the droid’s look was inspired a small drawing of a droid from a scene in Mobieus’ ‘The Long Tomorrow’.