16 Crazy Facts About the Infamous Star Wars Holiday Special

The Star Wars Holiday Special isn't great. If you've watched it once, that was probably enough.

There are generally two overriding memories of the movie. One is when Princess Leia and the gang sing a terrible song about “Life Day.” The other is the only good thing about it – 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 “George Lucas’ Folly” for it was a huge misstep.

Legend has it that Lucas is quite embarrassed about it now and noted Star Wars 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.

The Star Wars Holiday Special 1978 TV Movie Lucasfilm 2
Image Courtesy of Lucasfilm

Regardless, it's been a point of interest since it first aired – and it's always interesting to read trivia about something. With that in mind, here are 16 facts about the infamous Star Wars Christmas Special:

  1. Chewbacca has a son called Lumpy. He’s traveling to see him so they can celebrate “Life Day” together (we admit that the article peaks here, as we can't top this fact).
  2. The show aired in the United States on November 17, 1978, on CBS for the first and only time.
  3. 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.
  4. Given that it's canon (!!!), the Special is the first time the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk is seen on screen. The next time we saw this was in Revenge of the Sith when Yoda visited to help with the Clone War.
  5. Future Golden Girls star 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 scene was the chance to see some of the original barflies that were visiting the Catina in A New Hope for a longer period.
  6. If you’ve actually taken the time to watch the show, you’ll have noticed that the Wookies lived in giant wooden houses that are built into trees. This idea originally came from the design work of the legendary Ralph McQuarrie – the guy who did all the original concept design work for A New Hope.
  7. Future comedy legend Richard Pryor has a part as a bartender as well. From behind the bar, he answers the phone in the manner as part of a gag with some alien creatures.
  8. The show was probably the only variety special in American television history to feature a sex simulation scene. Chewbacca’s father engages in what could be described as holographic phone sex using a device called the “Mind Evaporator.” The attractive holographic lady was played by Diahann Carroll who, at the time, was well known for her Julia television series and the movie Claudine. Watch from this moment and enjoy the trippy ride and “just relax, just relax.”
  9. Lucas didn’t really have too much involvement in the project – he helped sketch out an initial story and the producers took it over, went nuts, and turned it into a variety show. Well, they had to have been nuts, right?
  10. Chewbacca’s father is named Attichitcuk and his wife is called Mallatobuck. His son Lumpy’s full name is Lumpawarrump.
  11. The “Happy Life Day” song by Princess Leia is based on John William’s original Star Wars theme tune.
  12. The special only formally aired one time in the United States on a date that will live in infamy – that was 17 November 1978. To put that into historical context, it was the day after the horrific Jonestown Massacre occurred.
  13. Movie industry legend Stan Winston created the Wookiee family.
  14. The Chewbacca family could only wear their costumes for about 45 minutes at a time due to the heat generated when wearing them. Then they’d have the heads taken off, and be given oxygen and fluid.
  15. The Boba Fett cartoon sequence was nine minutes long and was intended to be used to introduce the character who 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 Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s called “The Faithful Wookie.” Watch it here.
  16. The style of the sequence was modeled on the work of Jean “Moebius” 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 The Empire Strikes Back, you might be surprised (or not!) to learn the droid’s look was inspired by a small drawing of a droid from a scene in Mobieus’ The Long Tomorrow.

You might like to check out this sweet list of Star Wars trivia.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.