In 1977, George Lucas broke box office sales records with Star Wars. While working on the sequel CBS suggested the idea of a holiday special. Lucas passed the project on to others. It’s Star Wars, how could it lose? We will find out after this.
In 1978, CBS approached George Lucas for a full length Star Wars Holiday Special. Lucas was busy with The Empire Strikes Back. CBS insisted that it be like a variety show, so the show was put in the hands of veteran variety show writers and producers.
George Lucas insisted that the show center around Chewbacca’s family but insisted on no subtitles to the unintelligible family.
So, we have guest hosts like Art Carney in a futuristic Ed Norton as an appliance salesman carrying the dialogue.
Before there was even a Food Network, Chewbacca’s wife watches a cooking show with an eight armed Harvey Korman doing his best impression of an alien Julia Childs.
Korman also plays a malfunctioning instructional video of what appears to be a Radio Shack 50 in 1 project kit.
The show was stretched for time with scenes like this futuristic Cirque du Soleil hologram to entertain the little Wookiee.
Grandpa then had his fantasies fulfilled, no, I’m not kidding, with sequinned dressed Diahann Carroll. I can’t believe this made it past the censors at the CBS Practices and Standards. Cher was actually offered the part but wisely turned it down.
The Wookiees Facetime with Mark Hamill and R2D2, as well as a scene from Carrie Fisher, aka Princess Leia, with C3P0 in order to have a cameo for all the Star Wars stars.
In keeping with the variety show angle, Jefferson Starship of all groups appear to entertain and soften the spirits of the Imperial Patrol. In an interview with Vanity Fair, former lead singer for Starship said, “It was such a strange iteration of the original big-screen-movie concept and your regular variety-show, Carol Burnett vibe,” he says. “I was like tripping on it myself, man.”
Bea Arthur who was famous for the TV character Maude at the time wanted the public to be aware of her previous Broadway talents as a singer. After pouring drinks down Harvey Korman’s volcano head, she bursts into song with this number.
At the time, there were only three networks and the Star Wars Holiday Show came in second, being beat by Love Boat.
In the end, all character unite with globes, donned in red snuggies and walk into the sun while Carrie Fisher sings.
In the same Vanity Fair article George Lucas was quoted as saying that if he had the time and a hammer, he would personally “smash” every bootlegged copy of the special; otherwise he has yet to come clean on the matter.
Which just proves the old saying, if you want a job done right, do it yourself!