Happy Life Day! A brief history of “The Star Wars Holiday Special”

in Disney, Entertainment, Movies & TV, Star Wars, Television, Uncategorized

A Vexed Variety of Entertainment

Had Lucas been more involved in the actual shooting of the special, perhaps these horrible “extras” FORCEd upon viewers would have never seen the light of day. Instead, these attempts at entertaining make the perils of the Dark Side of the Force extremely appealing. From circus acts and what was, unbelievably, an attempt to push the limits of “adult entertainment” past the censors it is hard to believe these cut away scenes ever made into a “Star Wars” production.

According to producer Mitzie Welch, the sequence with Diahann Carroll was intended to be “soft-core porno that would pass the censors.” –IMDB

Jefferson Starship performed a 3D music video (who knew Stormtroopers liked earth rock-n-roll?) entitled “Light the Sky on Fire.”

Bantha Surprise! Stirring (and whipping) up a bit of comedy, Harvey Korman spoofed Julia Childs in an instructional cooking video (as Gormaanda). Korman portrayed the android Dromboid as well. He also appeared as an alien with Bea Arthur in the Cantina.

Bea Arthur said that she only appeared because her child was a fan of the film. At least her segment has direct ties to the film, bringing a return of Cantina Band “Figrin D’an and Modal Nodes” to accompany her less-than-appealing closing time song sung to the creatures forced to go home due to the Imperial curfew.

Saun Dann, the trader who drops in on Malla, Itchy and Lumpy was played by “Honeymooners” actor Art Carney. Allegedly this character (according to 1978 drafts of “The Empire Strikes Back”) was an early version of Lando Calrissian.

Many children hoped to stay up past their bedtime to catch the very first glimpse of the bounty hunter Boba Fett. The animation was produced by Nelvana Studios, who later went on to crank out “Star Wars: Droids” and “Ewoks” eight years later.

Life Day

(Spoiler?) Ultimately Chewbacca makes it home in time to celebrate Life Day with his family. During the celebration, Lea gives a speech followed by the life day song and the nightmare finally ends. While she insisted on having the opportunity to sing in the special, Fisher was never happy with the song.

Though “The Star Wars Holiday Special” was never officially released (Lucas himself wanting to destroy every copy in existence), bootleg copies of taped airings abound on the internet. It would almost seem that the pre-Thanksgiving special has more admiration now than when it was aired in 1978. A download, including clever comedic commentary, is available from Rifftrax.

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of this much despised, yet somehow endearing piece of dark Star Wars history.  Now that the Walt Disney Company owns Lucasfilm Ltd. We have to wonder if we will finally see an official release. Until (or despite) the moment that happens – May the Force Be with You and Happy Life Day!

Did you watch the “Star Wars Holiday Special” in 1978?  If so, what are thoughts on this strange special?  Please share your memories in the comments below.

Source and Images: IMDB, Variety, Wikipedia, Star Wars Holiday Special website and Facebook page, YouTube

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