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Thursday, May 25, 2017

May 25, 1977

I'm not even going to give you a hint for today's Throwback Thursday post.  If I did, I'd give it away even before I got to today's historical events and celebrity birthdays.  Heck, the date alone might be a giveaway.  So, I won't waste time.  Here's a list of some of the things that happened on May 25.

240 BC - First recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet

1738 - A treaty signed between Pennsylvania and Maryland ends the Conojocular War

1787 - The United States Constitutional Convention convenes in Philadelphia

1803 - Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (d. 1882) is born in Boston, Massachusetts

1837 - The Rebels of Lower Canada (present day Quebec) rebel against the British for governmental reforms

1865 - An ordnance depot explodes in Mobile, Alabama, killing 300 people

1878 - Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore" opens in London

1895 - Oscar Wilde is convicted of "committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons" and is sentenced to two years in prison

1925 - John T. Snopes is indicted for teaching Darwin's Theory of Evolution in his Tennessee classroom

1935 - At the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Jesse Owens manages to break three world records and equal a fourth

1939 - Actress Dixie Carter (d. 2010) is born in McLemoresville, Tennessee

1940 - The Battle of Boulogne ends with the capture of the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer by Germany

1955 - A devastating F5 tornado strikes Udall, Kansas, killing 80 and injuring 273

1961 - President John F. Kennedy announces his goal to "put a man on the Moon" before the end of the decade - that goal would be met in 1969

1963 - The Organisation of African Unity is established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

1968 - The Gateway Arch is dedicated in St. Louis, Missouri

1977 - The government of China removes the ban on all works by William Shakespeare, ending the Cultural Revolution

1979 - American Airlines Flight 191 crashes at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, killing everyone on board and two on the ground

1983 - Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi is released in theatres

1986 - Hands Across America takes place

1990 - Actor Vic Tayback dies at the age of 60

2002 - China Airlines Flight 611 disintegrates mid-air, killing everybody on board

2007 - Actor/comedian Charles Nelson Reilly dies at the age of 76

2011 - The final episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" airs

2014 - Actor/singer Herb Jeffries passes away at the age of 100

And the list of celebrities turning one year older are as follows; Georgy Grechko, Irwin Winkler, Tom T. Hall, Ian McKellen, Jessi Colter, John Palmer, Leslie Uggams, Charlie Harper, Frank Oz, Karen Valentine, Klaus Meine, Robby Steinhardt, Bob Gale, Robert Picard, Rick Wamsley, Anthea Turner, Mike Myers, Anne Heche, Stacy London, Jamie Kennedy, Octavia Spencer, Daz Dillinger, Molly Sims, Cody Canada, Erinn Hayes, Cillian Murphy, Ethan Suplee, Joe King, Neon Hitch, Jillian Wheeler, and Aly Raisman.

And now for today's Throwback Thursday date.  

We're going back exactly forty years.  To May 25, 1977.

Now, that was the same day that China revoked its ban on all works of Shakespeare...but it's not the main subject of this blog.  No, this blog is going to take you to place not from this planet.  I could say that we're boldly going where no man has gone before...but I won't.  Because that has nothing to do with today's theme aside from the setting.

And, notice how on this date in 1983 that Return of the Jedi was released in theatres?  Certainly it was a great film, and just one of several that have been made within this franchise.  However, it was on this date 40 years ago that the movie that kicked off this franchise debuted.  A movie that introduced us to characters such as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and of course, Chewbacca.

Can you believe that it's been four decades since Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope debuted?  Of course, back in 1977, it was just known as Star Wars.  After all, George Lucas at the time didn't realize how huge the franchise would become.  It was also one of the first movies to begin its story right in the middle, as the prequel trilogy wouldn't screen until 1999 and the sequel trilogy is currently being made (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released in 2015).  But it remains one of the most successful science-fiction films ever, and forty years later, its impact on pop culture is still widely felt.  It also made household names of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and the late Carrie Fisher.

So, I thought that in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, I'd put my search engine on warp speed and do some research on the first film.  And then I thought I'd post one fact for every one of the 40 years that has passed since the film made its debut!  I know I learned a lot more about the film by writing this blog, and I've consulted the Internet Movie Database and several other references to find the most interesting trivia bits about Star Wars. 

Let's begin!

1 - Initially there wasn't a lot of high expectations for the film to do well.  George Lucas skipped out on the premiere to go on vacation with Steven Spielberg - though it was on this vacation that they came up with the idea for Indiana Jones.

2 - It became the first film to make over $300,000,000 at the box office.

3 - Harrison Ford admitted to being on his best behaviour when Alec Guinness was filming scenes with him.  Once he was gone, he and Mark Hamill would get into mischief!

4 - David Prowse was the man in the Darth Vader costume - however his voice was provided by James Earl Jones.

5 - Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill did their own stunt work for the scene where Luke and Leia swing to safety - it was filmed in one take!

6 - Ever wonder how the lightsaber sound effect was achieved?  It is a combination of the humming of a 35mm projector with the feedback generated by passing a stripped microphone cable by a television.

7 - Carrie Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds, was so appalled that George Lucas was making the cast fly coach that she called him to complain - though Carrie had the last word when she told her to f@#$ off and that she was flying coach!

8 - During the trash compactor scene, Mark Hamill held his breath so long that he popped a blood vessel in his face.

9 - Peter Mayhew wanted to play a good guy while David Prowse wanted to play a bad guy.  They were cast as Chewbacca and Darth Vader respectively.

10 - Kenny Baker, the man in the R2-D2 outfit, has said that when the crew broke for lunch, they would accidentally leave him behind.

11 - Carrie Fisher's breasts had to be taped down with gaffer's tape, as her costume didn't permit lingerie to be worn underneath.

12 - After the trash compactor scene, the Chewbacca costume was left with a permanent stench.

13 - An interesting connection between two Star Wars films.  Denis Lawson, who played Wedge in the original film is Ewan McGregor's uncle.  Ewan, of course, played Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars I, II, and III.

14 - Peter Cushing would wear fuzzy slippers in scenes in which his feet weren't shown - the boots that were part of his costume were too tight for him.

15 - Amazingly, Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi NEVER really share any screen time together - unless you count the lightsaber duel where she sees him from a significant distance.

16 - John Williams composed the iconic Star Wars theme, as well as all of the music heard within the film.

17 - Take a good look at the Stormtroopers.  Almost all of them are left-handed.

18 - According to the Internet Movie Database, the film has one of the highest body counts (if not the highest) ever, with a total of 2,002,795,192 losing their lives!

19 - Han Solo's character evolved a LOT from the planning stages.  He was initially to be a giant green alien, but then that was changed to an African-American human, and finally a Caucasian.

20 - George Lucas was considering having Orson Welles do the voice of Darth Vader, but decided against it, as Welles' voice would have been too recognizable.

21 - George Lucas would refer to the film as a "Disney movie" during the production.  I'll let you all figure out the irony behind that statement...

22 - Kenner Toys was so hit with demand for Star Wars toys that they actually didn't have enough supply for holiday shoppers during Christmas 1977.  The company issued rain check vouchers during this time, and the toys were delivered the following spring.

23 - The scenes on Tatooine were filmed in a Tunisian desert - one that received the first heavy rainfall in over fifty years while the crew filmed!

24 - Sandstorms would destroy some of the sets representing Tatooine.  Twenty-two years later while filming "The Phantom Menace", the same thing happened.

25 - Ralph McQuarrie designed the iconic Darth Vader suit.

26 - George Lucas based the character of Han Solo on his friend, Francis Ford Coppola

27 - Brian DePalma helped George Lucas write the opening text crawl.

28 - When Captain Wedge Antilles' neck is crushed by Darth Vader, the sound effect is made by walnuts being crushed

29 - Several Star Wars references can be found in the "Final Fantasy" series of games - most notably in Final Fantasy VII, where two of the members of AVALANCHE are named Biggs and Wedge.

30 - Ben Burtt is the man behind Chewbacca's voice, as well as several of the other sound effects heard in the film - he disclosed that alien gibberish spouted by Garindian/Long Snoot was John Wayne's voice - albeit heavily processed.

31 - Fans were upset that Chewbacca (SPOILER ALERT) didn't get a medal in the closing scene.  MTV decided to fix that by giving Chewbacca a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.  Carrie Fisher was the one who made the presentation!

32 - This was the first movie to be dubbed in Navajo.

33 - The film runs for 121 minutes - making it the shortest of all the Star Wars movies.

34 - The film's stars had to get used to being mobbed by fans.  Harrison Ford had half of his shirt torn off at a record store one day when a group of fans mobbed him.

35 - According to some of the Stormtrooper actors, they were paid 8500 Tunisian Dinar for their work - which only worked out to $6.50 US back in 1977!

36 - Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO, had a wardrobe malfunction the first day he wore the costume which proved painful.  The left leg shattered down into the plastic of the left foot which stabbed his foot each step he took.

37 - Mark Hamill almost didn't get to play Luke Skywalker.  He was already committed to the television show "Eight is Enough" and the producers wouldn't let him out of the contract.  Shortly after filming the pilot, Hamill was involved in a car accident that caused damage to his face.  Producers released him from the contract, leaving him free to do the movie.

38 - Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford thought that George Lucas was a lousy dialogue writer, and after a confrontation, Lucas granted them permission to improvise some of the script.

39 - The film's budget was supposed to be $8 million, but it ballooned by another $3 million by the time production was completed.

And finally...

40 - It was the first science-fiction film to be nominated for an Academy Award.


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