Forty years ago today, The Star Wars Holiday Special aired on televisions across America for the first and last time. Though perhaps best known for being the debut of fan-favorite bounty hunter Boba Fett in it’s lauded animated segment, The Story of the Faithful Wookiee (animated by Nelvana, who would later go on to produce the Droids and Ewoks animated series from the late 80s), the infamous special has left a lasting impact on the Star Wars canon in other ways.
The Holiday Special is also notable for having introduced viewers to Chewbacca’s family: his wife, Malla, his father, Itchy, and his son, Lumpy. Later given the full names of Mallatobuck, Attichitcuk, and Lumpawaroo respectively, these three were reintroduced into the Star Wars canon. Malla was in a 2015 novelization of A New Hope called The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy, Itchy in Solo: A Star Wars Story according to annotations of Chewbacca’s dialogue in the script (this intention was kept in the junior novelization), and Lumpy in Aftermath: Empire’s End.
The special would also see the debut of the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk, then known as Kazzook or Wookiee Planet C. Interestingly, Itchy, originally known as Auzituck, and the Wookiee homeworld, then called Yavin, were first explored in a rough draft of what would become A New Hope. Perhaps coincidentally, Kazzook would be portrayed from orbit using a green-tinted matte painting of the gas giant Yavin, while footage of the Millennium Falcon’s arrival on the Wookiee planet was recycled footage of the freighters flying low over the treetops of Yavin 4.
Another popular addition to the Star Wars canon was the bartender Ackmena, who was portrayed by Bea Arthur of The Golden Girls fame. She would become canon with the 2016 update of Star Wars: Complete Locations, and would later appear in the short story collection From a Certain Point of View. She even received a mention in this year’s Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, New Edition, where she was depicted using an image of Ackmena as portrayed by Bea Arthur.
Back to Boba Fett for a minute: his helmet’s elongated appearance in the special would go on to inspire the look of Mandalorian helmets in The Clone Wars, while his distinctive tuning fork-esque rifle (the Amban phase-pulse blaster) has been reinterpreted for the upcoming live-action series The Mandalorian.
A slew of other elements first introduced in the Holiday Special have also shown up in canon sources, such as:
- Panna’s redwater moon, known as Panna Prime in Legends (Smuggler’s Guide)
- Cantina patrons Teak Sidbam (Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded) and Bludlow (Last Shot)
- Harvey Korman’s four-armed chef Gormaanda in the short story “A Recipe for Death” (published in Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens: Volume I)
- Y 4, Luke’s two-seater Y-wing (The Weapon of a Jedi)
- The Millennium Falcon’s pontoons (Millennium Falcon: A 3-D Owner’s Guide, 2018 ed.)
- The famous Wookiee holiday of Life Day mysteriously received an entry in StarWars.com’s Databank and has received mentions in various other works within the Star Wars canon.
Despite having never received an official home video release (aside from the animated segment), let alone be rebroadcast in the United States once since that fateful night forty years ago, The Star Wars Holiday Special continues to influence the canon to this very day in interesting and surprising ways. Who knows what (or who!) could show up next?
Happy Life Day from everyone here at StarWarsReference!
Written by AV
Edited by confederalis