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Holiday Special > Feedback > Memories > USA


USA

November 17, 1978

CBS, various channels


From SKot Kirkwood (USA):

I remember well the night the Star Wars Holiday Special aired.

I was 8 years old in November of 1978, and my 4-year-old brother and I were die-hard Star Wars fans. I knew ahead of time that the Special was going to be on, probably due to seeing a blurb about it in the newspaper. It was extremely exciting. There was only one problem: our family did not have a TV. My chances of seeing the Special seemed abyssmally small. However, my dad had most likely heard my brother and I chattering about the Holiday Special, because we somehow miraculously ended up at my grandparents' house in time to see it there.

I remember being extremely excited about it. This was compounded by the fact that it would be the first time I had seen live action footage of Star Wars characters, since my brother and I had not ever actually seen Star Wars! I had read the novel, the Scholastic Press book, the comic books. I had the toys, the trading cards, the record, etc. I knew the movie from beginning to end, every detail, but I had never actually seen it. This is what made my experience different from most other kids seeing the Holiday Special that night. Here I got to see my heroes on-screen for the first time.

As far as the other aspects of the show went, my brother and I enjoyed most of it very much. Some things I remember particularly well:

- The Imperials seemed very convincingly mean to me. If I ever doubted that the Empire was a bunch of bad guys, this show convinced me. The clincher was when they tore apart Lumpy's bedroom, decapitated his Bantha teddy bear (now THAT was vile!), and then--the ultimate mean thing for a kid my age--they made _him_ go and clean up his room afterwards! They weren't just bad guys; they were REALLY BAD guys.

- The stuffed Bantha: how I hoped and wished and wanted for them to make that. It was so cool. But they never did. However, they did end up making a stuffed Wookiee, which someone got for my brother since he was the littler kid. We thought it looked just like Lumpy. My brother named it "Crickey", and then we made up our own stories about two mischievous Wookiee kids, Crickey and his brother Jim.

- Watching the Imperial Guard get down to Jefferson Starship and tapping his fingers was hilarious to us. Especially since we knew how mean the bad guys were. The sight of one of them actually having fun made my brother and I laugh.

- The part with Gormaanda the four-armed chef was also hilarious to my brother and I, and it was the part I remembered the most years later. We talked about it for long afterwards, but for some reason we thought Gormaanda had said "Mix 'em, mix 'em, mix 'em..." during that segment. We would say that many times afterwards and giggle about it.

On the whole I can remember being very happy with it, but I can also remember a little bit of disappointment that there wasn't much in the way of action, and that Luke, Han and Leia's appearances were far too short. I do remember seeing Itchy's "mind evaporator" scene, though, and wondering why they had this disco lady singing who had nothing to do with Star Wars. This was the one part I remember disliking. It just seemed wrong.

The funny thing is, when it was over and I was back at school, I can't recall anyone even talking about it afterwards. In fact, I'm not even sure if any of them saw it. Of the childhood friends I've talked to about it since, none of them remember seeing the Holiday Special. This seems very odd for the time, since Star Wars mania was in full swing--it should have been one of the biggest television events in history. Instead, it faded into obscurity, leaving some people (like myself) wondering if they'd ever seen it in the first place, or if it was just some weird dream they had, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

--SKot


From Ross Nelson (USA):

I was 5 in 1978 and like you the Holiday Special was my first real look at the characters, never having seen the movie. Living in rural Vermont at the time, the Holiday Special was my only contact with the Star Wars universe outside of the merchandise. Looking back on it, it all seemed like a dream. I can only remember certain things, C-3PO and Lumpy being two of them. I do vividly remember kneeling on the living room floor in my PJs with my 2 older brothers watching that November night.


From Mark "JediSluggo" Johnson (USA):

I was six and 1/2 years old when the Special came on. Like SKot, I was at my Grandma's house watching in the basement. I was pretty excited, since I had just had my mom buy me the Star Wars Storybook through the Troll book club order at school. I had the book with me and I circled pictures of all the robots and aliens that were in the special. It was great to see all of the characters since I slept through the movie at the drive-in the first time I saw it.

I don't remember much about the Special itself. I remember the cartoon was great. I stood on my head when Luke and Han were upside-down. I also remember that I begged my mom to make me a Bantha doll. I got a wooley mammoth instead. It was pretty cool anyway.

That's about it.
-Mark


From Chris Richards (USA):

I wish I could give you a few memories about watching the special, but to tell you the truth, I don't remember much about it. I was 5 and a half when it aired, so there's little I could tell you about. I remember the bit where the Stormtrooper ripped the head off the stuffed bantha, for instance, and I remember Jefferson Starship playing (but remember nothing about the song they played). Wasn't there also a sequence with a ballet dancer, sort of similiar to what was done with the Jefferson Starship bit? If not, then obviously I'm remembering incorrectly, but I've been known to remember the weirdest things
about TV shows.


From Jonny Grimes (USA):

Missed a pizza dinner. And it was... MY FAULT.

In November of '78, I was 9 years old and my dream was that one night I'd fall asleep, and wake up in the Star Wars universe... I was that big a fan. The night it aired, my dad had gotten his paycheck, and we were going to Tower Pizza (which was, and still is, the
best danged pizza in this galaxy, or the Star Wars galaxy for that matter... but I digress.) The T.V. was on, about 10 minutes before we were to head out... and then my kid sister and me were suddenly transfixed. For the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL was coming on! (Silly kids that we were, we hadn't been informed that this show was coming on - we thought it was Star Wars itself - ON T.V.!!! WOWEEEEEE!!!)

So, dad gave us a choice - we could go for pizza, or watch the movie and mom would fry up some pork fritters (just thinking about them still stops nostalgic thoughts about my childhood in the Carter era - but again, I digress...) Well, after the Wookiees snarfing at each other for what seemed like an hour - I was waiting for some Star Wars action with bated breath. My sis was saying this was a dumb show. My dad had left the room. Mom had just got the pork fritters out of the freezer...

By the time the old Wookiee was watching his entertainment, Sis was saying "I want to go out for pizza!" My dad said O.K., we can still do that - Mom asked me, we can still go for pizza if you want - but I was STILL thinking, this is STAR WARS!!! It has to get GOOD SOON! That's what I told Sis, that's what I told mom... Dad shrugged, and headed back downstairs (Smart man, too bad you couldn't say the same for his son...).

The pork fritters (which my sister HATED, I didn't like much, my mom said were "cheap and fill you up" and my dad had bought enough of to choke a Bantha because they were on sale, so we "had to eat 'em") went on the stove, soon filling the living room with a processed-porky odor. In that same living room, the "Holiday Special" worked its evil
spell... Sis started making fun of the Special. I, a Boy Possessed, still held forth for the "Real Star Wars" to show itself, sat through the idiotic and interminable cooking sequence and the idiotic rock star filler. My hopes rose, then were dashed again as I watched the cartoon. When would this GET GOOD???

Needless to say, it never did.

The worst was Princess Leia singing - I was MORTIFIED!!! My sis was accusing me of being in love with Leia and being her "fan" as I tried to ignore the horrendous cacophony blaring from the T.V.! Her teasing soon turned to sulk - and then tears - when the fritters were served up (I think about the same time as the cantina scene...). But honestly, I remember little else. Except that my family missed out on their weekly pizza feed - heck, I missed it too - and we ended up being subjected to this abomination instead, with PORK FRITTERS to add a big, smelly, brown, crusty crown to the whole experience.

And it was MY fault, mine alone.

And here's the clincher - in 1978, my family DIDN'T HAVE A COLOR T.V. You see, we were kinda poor back then. A pizza dinner was a REAL TREAT... and cuz of me - Sis and I watched this ENTIRE thing - and wasted TWO HOURS which we'll NEVER GET BACK - watching this turkey in BLACK AND WHITE!!!!!

With some trepidation, I portend that one day, I'll stand before a great white throne - and along with other sins great and small, I'll have to answer to Old Jehovah for this one. That thought makes me tremble.

Jonny Grimes


From Brian Himes (USA):

Well, from reading the rest of the folks who have submitted memories, it looks like I was by far the oldest to have seen the Special when it originally aired. I was 12. Yep, 12. So you'd think that I'd have a pretty good recollection of what it was that I saw. Actually I remembered very little of it. Perhaps for sanity reasons I blocked it out. Just kidding.

Actually at the time I remember that I was very, very excited about it. I had been collecting Star Wars trading cards (I still have them) and the summer of 78, I had gotten to see the movie again. Plus this was going to have a Star Wars cartoon! What could be more exciting to a 12-year-old Star Wars nut?

So, the night of the Special, I settled on the floor of the living room promptly at 7:30. I wasn't about to miss a single moment of the show. It seemed forever before 8 pm rolled around. To occupy my time, I spread my trading cards out on the floor and put the puzzles together that were on the backs of the cards. That took me all of five minutes. So, the big announcement came. Next on CBS, the Star Wars Holiday Special! Finally the moment was here. Trading cards set aside, my eyes were glued to the TV.

After this things get a little fuzzy. I remembered the cooking show part with Harvey Korman. Stir, stir, whip, whip, whip, stir. How this little snippet got stuck in my head I'll never know. I was well aware that Chewie's family was waiting for him to arrive home for Life Day. However, to be honest, until I researched it I couldn't remember what the exact holiday was. I remember several parts with Han and Chewie in the Falcon on their way to Chewie's home. The most exciting part for me was all of the clips from the movie. That was really cool to me at the time.

I remember Malla and Itchy contacting Luke, R2, Leia and 3PO in an attempt to find out where Han and Chewie were, but what actually took place in these scenes is (or was) pretty much a blank. I remember Luke yelling at R2 about the engine going up in smoke. Other than that, like I said, the rest is pretty much blank.

I do vividly remember the cartoon. That part did stay with me for years. Especially when the Boba Fett figure came out. I do remember saying to my best friend that I had already seen the character in the Holiday Special. Yeah, that cartoon I never forgot.

Most of the rest of the Special is pretty foggy from that point on for me. I remember the Stormtrooper ripping the head off the stuffed Bantha. I also remember wanting or wishing for a stuffed Bantha of my own. Of course there was a missed opportunity for Kenner at the time. I also remember the Cantina scene but I didn't remember Bea Arthur in it or her singing.

I remember when Han and Chewie arrived and the Stormtrooper went through the railing and Han throwing the gun away as well. After that, I don't remember anything else except the Star Wars toy commercial. That was totally cool!

So, there you have it. The few memories that I retained of the Star Wars Holiday Special. I have since seen it again and I think that perhaps the reason that I don't remember much about it is, I do recall having a feeling of boredom while watching it. I guess during certain parts I went back to playing with my trading cards and only looked at the TV during the certain parts that I do remember. I do remember asking my best friend the next day if he saw it and he hadn't or if he did he didn't seem to thrilled about it. After the show went off (much to my parents delight), I felt a little disappointed. Especially after all of the hype. I mean, I was a TV junkie at the time so I know that I must have seen several commercials for it. Otherwise I wouldn't have even known about it. My mother certainly wouldn't have mentioned it. By that time she was pretty sick of Star Wars. Believe me, I'm sure that this Special didn't further her appreciation of Star Wars any.

Brian Himes


From Andrew Bittermann (USA):

I didn't realize it only aired one time and I was one of the lucky ones to have caught it - I was only 4 years old, but I distinctly remember one part. Stormtroopers were ransacking Chewbacca's "house" and went into the children's bedroom and tore the heads off of some stuffed animals that belonged to Chewbacca's kids. Rather excessive and unncessary I remember thinking at the time...


From Robert Sindeldecker (USA):

I saw the Holiday Special in 1978 - are you kidding? Who could miss it! - and I recall really enjoying the sound of Carrie Fisher's voice. The fact that I had a crush on her (and still do) probably helped. What I really remember though were the commercials. There were the obligatory Thanksgiving special promos of course, but especially there were ads for Star Wars toys! That by itself should be reason enough to preserve any videotape made of the broadcast.

May The Force Be With You,

Bob Sindeldecker
(12.5 years old in November 1978)


From Kevin K. (USA):

Hooboy.

I remember this night rather vividly. I'd been waiting for it all week.

The night the Holiday Special aired, I too was 8 years old. My parents had gone out that evening, and left me in the care of babysitters. I'd made sure my parents told them that I was allowed to stay up late to watch all of it, but I had to go to bed right afterwards.

At the time we had a Betamax. To make things even more interesting, it was one of the first models, that could only record 1 hour at a time. So, with my two one-hour Beta tapes at the ready, I sat down to watch the biggest night on television.

I remember having mixed feelings about the thing. Mostly, I think, I was trying to deny to myself just how bad the thing was. Why was Bea Arthur in the Cantina? Why wasn't the guy who said "HEY! We don't serve their kind here!" running the place? Why was it better lit than in the movie? Why is Harvey Korman pouring drinks into his head? What's with all the singing?? Why do Luke and Leia look kinda weird?

On the other hand, Boba Fett! WOW!! (side note, the thrill of finding out they were releasing a Boba Fett action figure was only paralleled by the disappointment in finding out his rocket pack didn't shoot the small plastic missile because they were afraid somebody would choke on it - and you bet I sent away for one in the mail!)

I remember wanting to find a copy of the Jefferson Starship song, and failing miserably (obviously this was waaaaaaay before Napster, Kazaa, etc.) I remember being really into the fact that the Cantina creatures were on TV, even though Bea Arthur was there.

My babysitters were merciless. I wanted to watch the whole thing again right after I'd taped it (I'd even made sure to switch the tapes out during a commercial!). They made me go to bed. It was past my bedtime. And then... the most unforgiveable part? THEY LEFT THE VIDEOTAPES ON TOP OF THE BETAMAX. Back in those days, this was a serious no-no. The magnetic field from the VCR could erase tapes left on top of them.

So, the next day, at my first opportunity I put in the tapes to watch my beloved moment of Star Wars, my very own special 2 hours of bliss, and the tapes - while not ruined - were severely damaged, due to the abovementioned magnetic field. The sound was buried in static most of the time. The picture was fine, but the sound was almost inaudible, except for sounding like what you'd get if you tuned in to channel 83 in those pre-cable days.

It didn't matter.

I still watched the damn thing again and again and again. I must've watched my old Beta tapes a hundred times, because as bad as the whole thing was, it was still Star Wars. It was the only Star Wars I could have in my home.

Eventually, I got older, the tapes died, or were erased, and I'd more or less forgotten about it.

But I still have a soft spot for the damn thing, because of my experience with it as a kid. And others have said it elsewhere, but unless you were a kid at the time, you have absolutely no idea how momentous this occasion was - Star Wars *anything* on TV! Now things are marketed to death. In 1978, this sort of thing was unheard of.

Kevin K. (Berkeley, CA now, Annapolis, MD in 1978)


From MegaRouge (USA):

Hi there!

I saw your website, and you said you were looking for people who had seen this special. I saw it! I loved it! I thought it was the coolest thing ever!

Of course I was 8 at the time.....

I only saw this once, but it's uncanny how much detail I remember. The thing that I remember most is a bad Imperial guy going in and tearing up the little wookie's room, even ripping the head of his plush Bantha. I cried.

Then later the guy finds out that the baby Wookiee is using his little electronic toy gizmo thingy to cause some sort of chaos, and he smashes it. Bastard.

I remember an extremely awesome (8, remember?) cartoon segment that involved Boba Fett on some kind of dinosaur thing. For some reason, it eats bits of machinery, and so Luke lets it eat some unimportant part of his X-wing fighter. And Fett says something like, "You are so kind to such a stupid creature." Or something.

I can't remember any of the Trigonometry I learned in high school but I remember a freaking line of dialogue from this special I saw ONCE 26 years ago. Go figure.

And for some reason Han Solo was hung up upside down. And I remember Luke walking through a doorway and collapsing, and then getting hung upside down as well. Like, the way to recover was to let all the blood rush to your head, or something.

Let's see what else. Something about a cooking show, but the lady had four arms. And she had this chant going, "Whip, stir, beat beat, stir" or something. And two-armed Mrs. Chewie was having trouble keeping up. I remember the cooking lady's hair starting to come undone from its style, she got so energetic.

I remember a cute song in the Cantina, sung by a lady, or a man in drag. "Just one more dance boys... one more chance boys." And then she stood at the exit and said goodbye to everyone as they left. One of the creatures asked her for a drink, and instead of handing it to him, she poured it into the top of his head. I think. Yeesh.

The little Wookiee kid was walking on the railing of the porch at one point. It was a reeeeeally long way down. And later on a stormtrooper lunges at Han and crashes through the railing.

And there was a Wookiee ceremony or something at the end and they all wore robes. Threepio was there. And Leia sang a song.

That's about all I remember. Maybe that's a blessing. :-D

Mega


From Joyce Penrose (USA):

I can't believe it! I have talked for years about what I now learn was named the Star Wars Holiday Special. For years I pleaded with my 2 sons to listen when I explained that the main characters spoke Wookiee, that it featured Chewie's family, that Art Carney had a role and so did Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. They mostly smiled, nodded, patted my head and glanced knowingly at one another. And every year I searched fruitlessly for it among the holiday program listings.

I read on your web site that most people didn't really like the special when it was aired - the reason it didn't get into the annual Christmas repertoire, I guess - but I loved it! A movie featuring Wookiees! Art Carney out of the sewer at last! What a concept! Thanks for the web site.

Joyce Penrose


From Alex Newborn (USA):

I was eight years old in 1978, and like most Friday nights, I was planning to spend the night at my paternal grandparents' house, just a few blocks away. So my contextual 'surroundings' memories, evoked by viewing my bootleg copies, always include a sudden shift during the fist commercial break, as the Special had started before we were going to leave and I made my Dad wait until the first break to drive me over. With the commercials edited out of my bootleg, I am mentally teleported from one living room to the other in a single splice.

A lot of my Star Wars memories occurred in my grandparents' house. I recall transporting Kenner Star Wars toys from one domicile to the other in simple brown grocery bags. I remember my brand-new landspeeder zooming across the close-nap carpeting and smacking into the coffee table leg, comically popping the hood and flipping Luke over the windshield even as it tragically broke Threepio's 'seatback foot peg' off inside his foot and sent him flying.

The two things I love the most about the Holiday Special are the cartoon segment and the cantina scene. And whenever I see that tape, and am transported to that house, other tangential memories surface as well.

I recall sitting at the dining room table applying the decals to my Creature Cantina playset. I recall climbing a chair to get a peek at a 12" Boba Fett hidden on a bedroom closet shelf, a little while before one Christmas morn.

I was in that house one Saturday morning when I saw a TV commercial for the Boba Fett action figure mail-away offer. I remember phoning my Mom to tell her about it, mispronouncing the name as Voba Fett because I had never seen it in print. And I distinctly recall my Mother's arch reply: "Don't you think you have enough Star Wars figures?"

[Enough? I had maybe twenty at the time, not counting duplicates. How could that possibly be enough? LOL-- today I own a couple hundred vintage 3.75" figures, and over 1600 of the modern figures, not counting 12" dolls and other scales.]

But back to specific Holiday Special-related memories. I recall my first reading of [my mentor] Brian Daley's Han Solo's Revenge, and getting the character of Sonniod confused with Trader Saun Dann! The names, and to a certain extent their story function and descriptions, are kinda similar. Whenever I re-read HSR, I always mentally cast Art Carney as Sonniod. Maybe they were related... in-universe, I mean.

Alex Newborn


From Randy Holland (USA):

Well, I feel like I should be using a walker or something. I had just turned 18 when the special first aired. I was (and am) a science fiction fan, so the prospect of more Star Wars was quite exciting at the time. The movie wasn't my favorite then (a little too hokey in places was my haughty opinion), but it was a lot of fun and I recall looking forward to the special. What a letdown. My main recollection is one of boredom during the special, and a deep seated belief that the movie had been a one-shot deal; that all the entertainment value of the Star Wars universe was used up in that one film and the rest was all downhill. I will admit, though, that I was not bored by Bea Arthur's singing. Appalled, but not bored.

Although Empire later boosted the franchise's stock in my view at the time, in looking back I think that - rather like having been bitten by a dog at a young age - the Holiday Special spooked me from ever becoming too involved with Star Wars.

-- Randy Holland


From Tom J. (USA):

I was 10 years old when the Star Wars Holiday Special aired and had been previously initiated into the Star Wars hysteria. I saw promos for it in the week or so leading up to the broadcast and was quite excited to see some version of Star Wars on television. As has been explained by many -- in those days, it was very rare to get to see anything related to Star Wars on the tube. Before then, I was able to satisfy my Star Wars addiction by gazing at my Star Wars posters, listening to my Star Wars records (including one that was an audio version of significant portions of the movie), and paging though sci-fi magazines (that I persuaded my mom to buy for me) which had oh so precious pictures taken from the movie.

Earlier in 1978, I camped in front of the television during the Academy Awards broadcast and sat enraptured as various clips from the movie were shown during the ceremony. And, believe it or not, I cried and threw a temper tantrum when Star Wars failed to win the best picture award! A movie called "Julia" won the award as I recall and I vowed never to watch it -- a vow I have kept, but only because that movie seems to have vanished into obscurity, never appearing on television (I doubt I will ever rent it).

In any event, by the fall of 1978, my Star Wars enthusiasm had faded some and when I learned of the holiday special, I was not nearly as fired up about it as I would have been six months earlier. Nevertheless, I had no idea that a sequel was planned and I thought this may be my last chance to see anything Star Wars. Sitting around the television with my three older brothers, I watched the first ten minutes or so. When it became clear that the whole thing would revolve around the Wookies (whom I never particularly cared for) my excitement dampened further. This sinking feeling was aided greatly by my oldest brother's open disdain for Star Wars. He refused to waste money going to see Star Wars at the theater (he loved the line from Hardware Wars -- "you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss three bucks goodbye") and the obvious corniness of the holiday special confirmed all of his worst suspicions that the Star Wars phenomenon was a total fraud. The other two brothers only ever had tepid interest in Star Wars and so, through the insistent lobbying of the eldest, it was voted that we change the channel to something else -- I don't remember what, but most likely something sports related.

Having short attentions spans, we would each get up periodically when whatever program was on TV was boring us, and there were several times during that two hours that I was able to change it back to the special. In particular, I recall that cantina scene and being shocked at seeing Maude (Bea Arthur) apparently running the joint! My alcoholic dad happened to be in the living room at that time and coincidentally he hated Maude, so he immediately ordered me to change the channel. Somehow, I was able to change it back for the last 15 minutes. I remember seeing the scenes of the Wookie household and not being able to follow it at all. I convinced myself that I was too stupid to understand, and that true Star Wars fans had mastered the subtleties of the Wookie gibberish and that it was really perfectly understandable -- why else would such nonsense fill up such large segments of a major network broadcast!?

During the closing scenes, the brothers allowed me to watch it, but only to make fun of the whole proceeding. They were particularly unmerciful during Princess Leia's singing "performance" -- and I had to agree with them there. My mother reminded us for about the 800th time that Carrie Fisher was the daughter of Debbie Reynolds (as if I knew who the hell she was) and that she had obviously not inherited her mother's talent.

Even though I only caught portions of the special, the evening represented a watershed for me in a sense. My older brother's soured, sarcastic outlook on Star Wars was sinking in on me. I began to agree that Star Wars was unworthy schlock and that I was a stupid kid for ever liking it. The holiday special served to confirm and reinforce these feelings and I started to make fun of the Star Wars dweebs at school.

But as kids are fickle, by the time "Empire Strikes Back" came out in 1980, I had evolved out of my anti-Star Wars phase and achieved some kind of happy medium where I could enjoy George Lucas' creation without becoming obsessed while avoiding my brother's cynical derision of the whole affair.

Now, in reading about the holiday special all these years later (for a time, I too believed the special was the product of some hazy dream), a definite feeling of nostalgia hits me. Not because of the program itself, of which I saw very little, but of how the special serves as a sort of allegory for my childhood.


From Scott Wall (USA):

My name is Scott Wall. I vividly remember The Star Wars Holiday Special. I live in Etowah, TN which is a rural community a.k.a. small town USA. I was 12 at the time and my cousin who was 8 had made arrangements to spend the night at our grandparents' home in order to watch the special. They had CABLE!! and we wanted to be assured of a great quality picture! (What I wouldn't have given to have been fortunate enough to have one of those Betamaxes that the previous commentor had!)

No, this was our one chance to see it and we were not going to miss it! The things that stick out most in my memory regarding the show were the live action scenes with the Star Wars cast. Why didn't those segments last longer?!? I remember being at the same time excited and aggravated by going back to the Wookiee's home for more growling. I also remember being disappointed by the quality of the animation during the cartoon part. Man, those people don't even look like their counterparts!! Han's face was like a football field long!!

Maude singing, ARRRRGHHH!! I just turned the sound down and looked at the creatures. I had seen the movie twice by then and had read my xeroxed copy of The Star Wars Storybook about 5000 times! So Star Wars on TV was the bomb!

The best things about The Star Wars Holiday Special to me now are my memories of where I was and what I was doing at the time, nostalgia. I think by [it] being almost ignored by pretty much everyone [while] at the same time being something that meant so much to me at the time, those memories were protected and saved so it's like a visual time capsule for me. I can actually smell my grandfather's house and feel the fire from his fireplace and taste the Cheetos and fudgesicles. What I wouldn't give to be back there now even for just a few minutes.

Thanks SKot for having this place to speak out.

Scott Wall


From Steve Fuji (USA):

As I write this, I am listening to and transcribing to CD an audio cassette I made of the Star Wars Holiday Special when it originally aired. I didn't have a VCR in 1978 and I have often wondered if there are video copies available of the show.

I remember enjoying the show but I would probably have liked anything to do with Star Wars at that time. I was not a child at the time either, I was around 21 and a theatre and film/TV production student. Years later I heard that George Lucas was not satisfied with the show and had prevented any further airings of it.

We must remember that this was a network television Christmas special aimed at children and families. As such, it can't be evaluated in comparison to feature films. Listening to the show now, it still seems like an enjoyable Christmas television program and I think the new generation of Star Wars fans would enjoy seeing it . I know I would like to see it again.

Steve Fuji
Joshua Tree, California


From David Sedlick (USA):

I had just turned 8 in September the year the Holiday Special came out. I have fond memories of the show. I was scared to death when they tore up the young Wookiee's bedroom only to be overjoyed when Han and Chewie came to the rescue. The visions of the Wookiee treetops stayed with me for years. Just like the visions of Biggs on Tatooine from the storybook. The bartender pouring a drink in the alien's head, Boba Fett on a dinosaur, Chewie in a red cape - all bits and pieces of memories that were somewhere between reality and dreamland for years until I was old enough to realize that there was a TV special and indeed these memories were true. Seeing it now it is amazing how long boring and terrible scenes could be ignored by the mind of child. All the memories were of the "good" parts. The guy who put together a 5 minute version on YouTube really sums up what is was like to watch it live. The excitement of anything Star Wars was all I needed then and again now!


From Dan Rose (USA):

As to my memory:

I remember well the night the Star Wars Holiday Special aired.
I had the toys, the trading cards, the record, etc. I had seen the movie more times than I can remember. I wanted more in those days.

The best part was the animation portion. Boba Fett was cool.
Fun to see the entire cast, but in a smaller part.

Still I could not believe about the singing involved. I was not sure to make of it at the time.

The stuffed Bantha: how I wanted one.
Bought it when Kenner/Hasbro finally made one. It reminded of the Special.

I was excited to watch it, but after it was over, it felt like a hangover.
Did I see what I saw? Was it real? Was I dreaming.
Only years later, I realized, it was real.

Thank you.


From Donald Joh (USA):

I was 5 years old when the Special originally aired and I think I must've suffered some form of post-traumatic stress disorder because I don't actually remember watching it. But for years I had strange memories of the Wookiee planet, and Chewbacca's family, and cartoons about Boba Fett. I always assumed that I'd dreamt those things until I saw a video tape on the desk of a co-worker labeled "The Star Wars Holiday Special." When I asked him about it, he popped it in and my brain literally began to short circuit when all the repressed memories came flooding back. I think the weirdest part was realizing all that awful stuff about Chewbacca's family and the Wookiee planet was real and not just the strange delusions of a young kid. My co-worker was kind enough to give me a copy of the Special. It only took me 7 very traumatizing viewings to get through the whole thing.


From Gregg D. (USA):

I had been looking forward to the Star Wars Holiday Special for a while, because it was fairly well-promoted on CBS. Like many other kids, the main reason for my excitement was that this was the first official filmed (or taped) Star Wars material to emerge since the release of the original film in 1977. This anticipation can be better understood if I first describe my (admittedly cooler) experience seeing "Star Wars" in the theater for the first time.

I was 9 years old when the movie came out, and I remember going to see it on opening weekend in Hollywood, where my dad's then-girlfriend lived at the time. My dad and I lived about an hour away in boring Orange County, so I always enjoyed coming up to exciting Hollywood with my dad to visit his super-cool girlfriend "Jen". I was aware of Star Wars from having seen the trailer, but somehow I wasn't really clued-in to the huge amount of buzz that had built-up by the time of release. But Jen was clued-in, and before we went to the theater she took my big sister & me to a T-shirt shop in Hollywood, and bought each of us a Star Wars T-shirt! Then we proceeded to the theater, and to this day I still have no idea how she arranged it, but she took us right to the front of the block-long line, and the manager let us in first! I felt like some kind of VIP walking past the huge line to see "Star Wars", while wearing one of the first Star Wars T-shirts to be seen in L.A.

Needless to say, I loved the movie, and my dad did too. He described it as a "Western in space", but neither of us were familiar enough with samurai movies to see that influence as well. I guess the girls liked it OK, too...

(The only confusing thing about this memory is that the historic materials I've seen say that "Star Wars" opened at the Chinese Theater; but I would SWEAR that the theater we went to was on the opposite side of the street from the Chinese, which would possibly make it the Paramount Theater -- which was previously, and is now once again, known as the El Capitan. But when I saw Star Wars for a second time a couple of months later, it definitely WAS at the Chinese.)

Thus, having had a pretty damn good time with the experience of seeing Star Wars, as well as the material itself, I was aching for ANY tidbit of new material from Lucasfilm. And when that first bit of new material turned out to be the Holiday Special, it was somewhat of a mixed blessing. Here's the problem: Like most sci-fi fans my age, I had little interest in "variety" television. I might chuckle at the occasional sketch during the Carol Burnett Show, but the moment somebody started singing, dancing or...juggling, I was OUT. So, it was with mixed feelings that I sat down to watch the Star Wars Holiday Special on November 17, 1978, because I was already aware of the odd casting choices and heretical inclusion of contemporary musical guests. On the other hand...it was frickin' Star Wars, and I was a 10-year-old boy! I HAD to watch it!

Before the recent revival of interest in the Holiday Special, I would've said that my strongest memories from the original airing were of Harvey Korman doing his best Julia Child impression, and of Han Solo trying to make it to Kashyyyk in time for the Life Day celebration. I liked Korman from the Mel Brooks movies and the Carol Burnett show, but I was irritated by the slapstick routine, which I thought was demeaning to the Star Wars material. I also remember being so disgusted by the appearance of Jefferson Starship that I literally turned down the volume until the end of the scene! My dad suggested with some irritation that perhaps I was over-reacting. What can I say; I was not a fan of rock music at that age, but I resented the appearance of Starship on principle. They didn't belong in Star Wars!

In the last couple of years, my memory has been jogged by the Holiday Special revival movement, and now I can recall being somewhat appalled by the scene with Diahann Carroll, and I had completely blocked the memory of Carrie Fisher singing! In retrospect, I recall being a bit embarrassed for her. I remember thinking that Art Carney committed himself well to his scenes, but Bea Arthur stood out like a sore thumb -- not necessarily because of her performance, but because she was known for appearing as a guest on any and every television show in the USA.

I think that the scenes that were the most intriguing for me were those with the Wookiee family. I dug that they did not ever speak English which, while it might have made for "better television", I knew would have been absolutely improper had it been done. I was surprisingly "meh" about the animated sequence. I thought that the Boba Fett character was appropriately menacing, but something about his character design made me think I was watching a Japanese-produced cartoon! (Nelvana was actually in Canada.) Finally, I was really crushed about the lack of new visual effects! The stock footage of the Millennium Falcon would be my only Star Wars effects fix until "Empire". (I desparately wanted to see John Dykstra's f/x work in "Battlestar Galactica" that year, but my dad wouldn't let me watch it! "Why would you want to see such a cheap 'Star Wars' rip-off?!" he'd say.)

I think it's safe to say that I was very disappointed in the Holiday Special. I had a strong aversion to anything "cheesy" -- perhaps even more stridently so as a kid than I do now -- and it was clear that that's what the producers were going for. Even so, it was a welcome tidbit of Lucas-style originality to what I thought was a pretty stale TV landscape. My memories only became more fond as the Holiday Special became more apocryphal over the years. It was like the "lost chapter" of the Star Wars saga, and that in itself made it more interesting in my eyes.

Thanks to you, SKot, and others like you, who have brought the Holiday Special back into the light where it belongs! For all its faults, we first-gen Star Wars fans will remember it as the groundbreaking event that it really was.

Regards,
Gregg D.
Los Angeles, CA


Now let's hear YOUR memories of seeing the Holiday Special when it aired!