Forty years ago today is a significant date in “Star Wars” history. It’s not the day the first “Star Wars” movie came out (that was May 25, 1977). No, 40 years ago today the “Star Wars Holiday Special” aired on network TV.
For those of a certain age this holiday special, which aired on CBS on November 17, 1978, is seared into our brains. Keep in mind, the movie industry was quite different back then. Films, especially ones that performed well, were in theaters for a long time. The original “Star Wars” was in theaters for 44 weeks. That would never happen today.
To keep merchandising momentum going as the film was winding down its theatrical run, George Lucas developed a Christmas special and managed to convince all the major players from the first film to star in it. He renamed Christmas “Life Day” and introduced a bunch of new characters. This included the first sighting of Boba Fett. Sounds great, right? Um, no.
What’s not to enjoy from a special that never re-aired or was never sold on VHS? That sounds like a George Lucas move, right?
I remember watching it. I was seven years old and it was “Star Wars,” which I loved (still do), but it was a bit weird. Ok, not a a bit. It was TOTALLY weird. Which is why you should at least watch some of it.
If that’s not enticing enough, it also has Bea Arthur, a singing Princess Leia, Harvey Korman in drag, Jefferson Starship and Chewbacca’s son, Lumpy, in it. And no I didn’t make that last sentence up.
Everyone in the “Star Wars” family has made fun of this special but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a view on its 40th anniversary. Thanks to YouTube you can do just that below, it even includes commercials from the era. You’ll never look at “Star Wars” the same way again.
Happy Life Day!
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