May the Fourth Be With You! Well, tomorrow anyway… it’s nearly Star Wars Day and we wanted to dip back into the archives for some classic Star Wars cast memories.
When the original Star Wars was released in 1977 (well before it got the subtitle Episode IV: A New Hope and launched the biggest juggernaut franchise of all time), it catapulted its cast to international stardom. Several of them had appeared in bit parts in film and TV prior to that, and continued to make occasional forays into small screen appearances even after the first trilogy was underway. (And no, we don’t mean just The Star Wars Holiday Special. 😉 ) For today’s Friday Five, here are some clips with the original cast members both before the films were released and in their heyday!…
Mark Hamill on The Partridge Family
Though he was ostensibly an unknown when Luke Skywalker made him a household name, Mark Hamill had already racked up an impressive number of television appearances before Star Wars was released; he guest starred in many TV movies and series such as Eight is Enough and The Streets of San Francisco. One of the most memorable is this 1971 Partridge Family episode, in which he plays Laurie’s boyfriend who awkwardly stumbles his way through trying to say something nice about her new braces. (In typical 70’s sitcom continuity, Laurie’s braces were gone the next week. Sadly, so was her cute new boyfriend.)
Harrison Ford on The F.B.I.
The F.B.I. is one of those police procedurals from the 70’s that hasn’t held hard and fast in most people’s memory banks; based on real-life F.B.I. cases, you could say that spiritually it was a precursor to Law & Order, a franchise which went on to become one of the biggest of all time. (hey, kind of like a space opera set in a galaxy far, far away!) Harrison Ford was a busy jobbing actor before Star Wars, including of course his turn as smug-face hotshot Bob in American Graffiti; in this episode of The F.B.I., he’s a guy who may be falsely accused of a crime. Hey, that was some great early preparation to play The Fugitive all those years later!
Carrie Fisher on Laverne & Shirley
Prior to becoming the princess of our hearts as Leia, the late great Carrie Fisher’s screen appearances were limited despite growing up as Hollywood royalty; her screen debut in Shampoo is an obvious stand-out. After the trilogy was underway, however, she made guest appearances here and there and most of them were quite memorable. Here, she turns up on Laverne & Shirley during that awkward season in 1982 when Cindy Williams had already left the show; Fisher’s awesome comic timing is a great match for Penny Marshall’s and the two are hilarious as they desperately try to make it at the Playboy Club as bunnies, and not set Hugh Hefner’s ascot on fire. (Plus, Carrie sings! <3)
Billy Dee Williams on Dynasty
Before signing up for duty as the suavest in the galaxy, he who would be Lando Calrissian probably had the most visibility of the cast for his feature film work; Billy Dee Williams was well-known for his roles such as the sports tear-jerker Brian’s Song and Diana Ross-starrers Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany. It was after The Return of the Jedi that he dove into the perilous world that was 80’s primetime soaps on TV, playing the husband of Diahann Carroll’s popular diva Dominique Deveraux on Dynasty. We couldn’t find an actual clip, but here’s those classic credits! (Also, fun fact!: Williams and Carroll were classmates at NY’s LaGuardia High School of Music & Art, aka the Fame school.)
C-3P0 and R2-D2 on Sesame Street
Yep, we highlighted this clip before in our Friday Five of favorite Sesame Street moments, but there’s no understating what a BIG DEAL it was for us kids in 1980, so let’s enjoy it again! Appointment television the day that droids turned up on Sesame Street; we could hardly believe our ears when Anthony Daniels’ dulcet tones were conversing with Big Bird, David and the kids. Needless to say, um, these two droids did not have a ton of TV or film appearances prior to Star Wars release. Though some of their very distant robotic cousins may have turned up on Doctor Who from time to time… 😉