A Brief History of the Infamously Terrible ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’

One piece of “Star Wars” memorabilia is notably absent from the canon: the resoundingly panned, time-immemorially terrible “Star Wars Holiday Special.”

The special’s plot centers on Chewbacca’s family, awaiting his return to the planet of Kashyyyk. While the family waits and the Empire stalks the rebels, viewers gain an inside view of Wookiee family life.

The (perhaps unintended) high point of the whole fiasco is the short cartoon midway through the special when the world is introduced to Boba Fett.

1978: Fears mount that ‘Star Wars’ characters won’t hang on

With little precedent for sequels being promising ventures, ideas began to form for a way to maintain the relevancy of “Star Wars” while gaining new fans in the process.

Summer 1978: CBS pitches a variety hour

Most variety shows had ceased production by the end of the decade, which adds to the mystique of why CBS went ahead and pitched Lucas on a variety show centered on the “Star Wars” universe to be broadcast around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Lucas hands over a simple-if-ill-fated concept

With Lucas preoccupied developing “Empire Strikes Back,” CBS took the reins on the production of the “Star Wars Holiday Special.” The film creator offered up a six-page treatment for the special.

A chaotic production ensues

Mayhem on set was second nature—from characters passing out during the cantina scene due to lack of oxygen inside the masks and Mark Hamill having to wear almost comical makeup to disguise scars from his recent car accident.

Nov. 17, 1978: ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ premieres

At one “Star Wars” convention, Lucas famously said, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.”

Swipe up to learn more!