Holiday Special > Text > Interviews > Patty Maloney

Interview with Patty Maloney, "Lumpy"
By SKot Kirkwood - November 8, 2008

Patty MaloneyWho was the real star of The Star Wars Holiday Special? The answer is clear when you think about it: Lumpy. It's really all about a day in the life of Chewbacca's son. And the real star behind Lumpy? None other than Patty Maloney, the 3' 11" actress who had already been seen on television in a number of 70s TV shows including the Sid & Marty Krofft production "Far Out Space Nuts", where she played the character Honk.

As we look back at the original airing of the Holiday Special so many years ago, it seemed only appropriate that we talk to the real star of the show. And so we present... Patty Maloney!

Patty Maloney as LumpySKot: Well, as you know it's the 30th anniversary of The Star Wars Holiday Special...

Patty: I cannot believe that. I cannot believe it's been 30 years!

SKot: I'll bet it was a lot of fun.

Patty: It was. It was a lot of hard work, but it was also a lot of fun. It was great to be involved with all of the other characters, too.

SKot: I can imagine. It sounds like everybody had a relatively good time working on it, at least.

Patty: Yes, we did. And we got along wonderfully, and we were all very pleased with the outcome of it, actually... I was. I was very pleased with it.

SKot: Had you actually seen Star Wars before working on this show?

Patty: Yes, I had seen... I think I had seen the first one. But I didn't know the characters of Chewbacca's family, because Star Wars didn't have Chewbacca's family in it. This was completely different, you know.

SKot: Right. It was a new development.

Patty: Right.

SKot: What about getting the part? Can you tell about what it was like getting the part and how that came about?

Patty: It was just a basic open call, an audition for someone about my height to come and read, or come in and audition, be interviewed for the part of Lumpy. I went in with a bunch of other people, and... for some reason they just chose me. I have no idea why! How that came about, it's just that that happens, you go to an audition and all of a sudden there you are, you've got the part, you know. Or you don't have the part.

SKot: You must have had the magic.

Patty: I guess so! It was something that I did that intrigued them, I guess, that I could do Lumpy.

SKot: Did they tailor the suit just for you? Do you remember when you first tried the suit on?

Stan Winston combs the hair on the Lumpy mask.Patty: Yes. Once it was finally completed... it was made of all human hair, which made it very, very warm... it was a very warm suit. I remember I was doing something on The Towering Inferno, doing a stunt on that, and I had to go over after shooting all day to Stan Winston's for the face, because he did the head--he did the make-up and the electronics in the head.

SKot: Sadly enough, Stan Winston passed away earlier this year...

Patty: I know! I felt so bad, I couldn't believe that! I just had the best time with him on the set. He was a great person to work with.

SKot: He talked about the Holiday Special later, and described it as the springboard for his career, basically.

Patty: Yes, yes. And for the type of thing that he did inside the head, because he did some mechanical work inside. And that was probably one of the first times they used any kind of mechanics inside the head, you know.

SKot: As I understand, the Chewbacca mask, which had already been made for the movie, didn't have any kind of movement in it like that.

Patty: No, it did not. Actually, Stan Winston is the one that developed this movement. It was an interesting thing to work with, because I could control the mouth moving up and down by rings they wired from the head through my arms, and I put these little rings on my fingers and I could move my fingers inside the costume and make different looks... like a snarl, or a smile, or different things like that. And the only thing that wasn't covered were my eyes, so my eyes were open, it was like a mask around my eyes.

SKot: I imagine that was difficult, working those cables while you were moving around.

Patty: Yeah it was, and at times when we would do a real close-up of Lumpy, Stan would get behind me and he would re-open the back of the costume and pull on some of those strings, because it was hard to pull on them. And so when we wanted a close-up, he wanted it to be perfect, you know. And you couldn't see him because he was kneeling down behind me, and they would just show the face of Lumpy. And it worked very well, doing it that way.

SKot: Was the suit uncomfortable to wear with all the cables in it?

Patty: No, it wasn't that uncomfortable, it was just extremely warm, very very warm. There was hardly any place to really breathe because the mouth needed to be closed a lot of the time... and that was where I would get all of my air, through the mouth, because the eyes were like... that mask was real tight against my eyes. I remember a couple of times when I had to run up the steps of the tree, up from the downstairs while being chased, and run up the tree into my room... they had someone standing there that would open the mouth for me and put a straw through so that I could breathe and get some oxygen, some good clean oxygen! But they were great, they were right with me the whole time, you know.

SKot: I've seen some pictures of them having to do that with the cantina characters, with a straw in their mouth. Were you present during the filming of the cantina material?

Patty: Yes, I was for some of it. The cantina scene went all night long, it was a long, long time to shoot that scene. It went from morning, all night, to the next morning.

SKot: Did you get to meet Bea Arthur?

Patty: No, I didn't really, because she was on-set most of the time.

SKot: What was it like working with Art Carney?

Patty: It was great, he was wonderful... very cooperative, fun to be around, never complained, we had lots of laughs and stuff. He was great. He was really, really great. And of course my favorite was Harrison Ford, because I got to be picked up by Harrison Ford, you know. That was just wonderful, because I was always a huge fan of him, and still am.

Lumpy steals a Wookiee-ookie while Malla isn't looking.SKot: Do you remember eating the Wookiee-ookies, those cookies on the set?

Patty: Oh, Lumpy kept trying to steal them, and eat them, and the mother would take them away from me, yeah.

SKot: Any idea what kind of cookies those were? It looked like they were chocolate chip or something.

Patty: Oh my gosh, I have no idea. It probably was. I'm sure it was. But it would be something that wouldn't come off on the fur when I'd pick up the cookie. Because the chips in the chocolate chips would melt, and they wouldn't want to get that all over the paws, you know, the fur.

SKot: Do you recall filming any scenes that didn't make it into the show?

Patty: Oooh, gosh, I can't really. No, I think basically everything that we did was used, especially the things with the family. There might have been some things that were done when I wasn't on set that weren't used, but with the actual family I can't think of anything that they left out.

SKot: Did George Lucas ever visit the set?

Patty: No, what they did was at the end of every day they would send the film up for his approval, before they would say that it was okay and they didn't have to shoot any more on that scene. They would, I guess, fly it up there and he would look at it. He may have come down on the set during the time that other people were working, but not while I was on set.

SKot: I understand he was busy working on the sequel to Star Wars, and basically turned it all over to CBS, so he didn't really have time to supervise it or keep a close watch on it.

Patty: Yeah. But from what I understand, he did check on the dailies everyday, they did show him all of the dailies.

SKot: Once the filming was done, did you get to keep any props or items from the set?

Patty: Actually, in the kitchen they had these glass jars for flour and sugar and things like that, and they told me I could have anything in that kitchen I wanted, so I took those. And they looked like big mushrooms with covers. I still have them.

SKot: Do you use them, put flour and sugar in them?

Patty: Yes, I do use them. Actually, the biggest one I put candy in... and teabags, coffee, things like that.

SKot: I know Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) enjoyed the Holiday Special.

Patty: The last time I saw him was at an autograph signing, and I went up to him and I said "Do you remember me?" and he said "Yes, you're my son!" He said, "You know actually, Patty, when we do these signings you should be with me, because you and I work together so closely, because you were my son in the special... we should do tours together when we do the signings!" Because I had some pictures of Lumpy that I was autographing. Star Wars has a huge, huge fan base. They loved getting a picture of Lumpy, because that was very rare, you know.

SKot: Have you done any appearances in support of your Lumpy role?

Patty: No, I haven't... the only thing I did was the autograph signing. And of course I wasn't in costume, I just had some pictures, because they wanted pictures of different things that I had done. So I included some pictures of just Lumpy.

SKot: Would you be interested in doing convention appearances or anything like that?

Patty: Yeah, you know when Peter does them he's not in costume, he doesn't go there as Chewie. Yes, it would depend on what the situation was. I don't think the costume is around anymore.

Lumpy mask in the Lucasfilm archives.SKot: I think the head may still be around, I think it's in the Lucasfilm archives... but the rest of the costume I have no idea where that might be.

Patty: Yeah, I have no idea either. I know that Stan [Winston] didn't make the costume itself; he just made the head.

SKot: There was talk about a spinoff TV series for the Holiday Special early on... did you ever hear anything about that?

Patty: Vaguely... I heard that they were thinking about doing that. But I have no idea why it didn't come about. I did hear that they were talking about that, but then it never progressed. I don't know any of the details on that.

SKot: Did you ever consider working in any other Star Wars project?

Patty: No, I never was approached to do any of them. Basically on the other Star Wars [projects], when they used the little people, they were basically all background. And I didn't do background stuff at the time.

SKot: Have you kept in touch with anybody else from the show?

Patty: No, I haven't... I was in touch with Stan several times, but not anymore unfortunately. No, I really didn't... in fact I lost touch with a lot of the people.

SKot: I imagine you get fan mail about the Holiday Special, people writing in asking for autographs and things like that?

Patty: Yes, I do, occasionally I get fan mail on it, yeah. I do send out autographs... everything goes through the union, or through my manager, and he'll forward everything to me and then I do send pictures and sign autographs for anything I've done.

SKot: Would you like to see the Holiday Special come out officially someday?

Patty: I would, I would love to see it come out. I think it was like one of the classic things, even though it wasn't as popular in the ratings, but I thought it was something unique and I would love to see it come back.

SKot: I think there are a lot of people who would love to see it come out. Even if it's not the best thing related to Star Wars, it's still fun...

Patty: Yeah, and it was a different feel because of having it be the family instead of all of the other things, with the fighting and all that stuff. I loved the way it was written, I thought it was very compassionate, and the response between the family and everyone else from Star Wars was great.

SKot: Looking back now on the 30th anniversary of the show's airing, what kind of thoughts do you have about working on it?

Patty: Just that I was thrilled that I got to do it, number one. I loved doing it, I had a fabulous time, we worked very hard. Smith-Hemion were wonderful to everyone, they were just great. And I loved Steve Binder, the director... I just loved working with him. What a brilliant man, so kind and so gentle; a great, great director. He made everything so pleasant for me.

SKot: Sadly, Dwight Hemion also passed away this year...

Patty: I know, I know, I felt so bad. They were so wonderful, they were just great. Just great to work with.

SKot: Are you still active in show business now?

Patty: Yeah, I still am, actually... I moved to Florida because I had been in Los Angeles for 35 years and I thought it was time to make a move, and I was raised here. And it was nice to come home. But I still, yes, I could go back out... in this day and age you can go anywhere and work from anyplace. A lot of people are leaving Los Angeles and live in other parts of the country and still work, you know. So yeah, I still am. I'm still raring to go if anyone wants me!