The Star Wars Holiday Special celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. The show aired in the US on November 17, 1978, on CBS for the first and only time. The 97-minute special would also air in other countries. It’s safe to assume that it probably wasn’t what most fans had expected it to be. It featured Leia singing lyrics to the Star Wars Main Theme, it featured Luke who apparently hadn’t visited a Sullustan Barber (and with a lot of make-up), and it showed a bunch of strange (musical) intermezzo’s that were more than awkward. Since its initial release, there hasn’t been much love and appraisal for the Holiday Special. Therefore it has never been officially released on any medium by Lucasfilm.
Still, the show has some interesting tidbits that are worth checking out. It’s got a few deleted scenes from A New Hope featuring a Moradmin Bast lookalike (perhaps even his clone), it showed Kashyyyk for the first time, Boba Fett made his debut in a cartoon, and it featured another cantina scene. Despite Lucas’ dissatisfaction about the cantina sequence in A New Hope, it had turned out to be really popular. The patrons that visited the cantina in the Holiday Special have rarely been put in the spotlight. Decipher named some in their Customizable Card Game, a few of them received an entry in “What’s the Story?” on the official Star Wars website, and Leland Chee recently named several patrons in the Rogues Gallery of Star Wars Insider #144. This blog presents, for the first time ever, the complete list of all familiar and unfamiliar faces from the cantina in The Star Wars Holiday Special.
“Time now for Life on Tatooine, brought to viewers everywhere in the hope that our own lives may be uplifted by the comparison and enriched with the gratitude of relief. This transmission is unrehearsed and unedited, and is hereby begun without further comment as to its lack of moral value.”
The cantina sequence in the Holiday Special was part of a holodocumentary called “Life on Tatooine” that Imperial forces were ordered to watch in 1 ABY. The first thing that you notice about the cantina is that it looks completely different from Chalmun’s Cantina from A New Hope, but it is supposed to be the same place. Why it looks differently hasn’t been explained, but it just doesn’t fit at all in any of the floor plans published for Chalmun’s Cantina throughout the years. The bartender in the cantina during the shift was Ackmena (1), a middle-aged female human played by actress Bea Arthur. Ackmena was the night shift bartender, although she had requested better hours at Chalmun one year earlier. She was assisted by a diminutive, white-faced female called Sosio Kakra (2) and by the white-faced, hulking bouncer called Tork (3). They had a rather rough shift since the Empire ordered a curfew on the Tatooine System and all patrons were forced to leave the cantina at once.
Since many masks from A New Hope, created by Stuart Freeborn and Rick Baker, were reused for the Holiday Special, the sequence features a lot of familiar faces. But appearances can be deceiving. Some of the patrons look a lot like the characters from A New Hope, but are in fact other characters. Teak Sidbam (4) has often been mistaken for Ponda Baba. He wore nearly the same outfit as Ponda did, but he had shorter sleeves on his orange vest. Teak was a member of the Aqualish Aquala race and had finlike hands and not fingered hands like Ponda Baba (an Aqualish Quara). He was a repossession agent who seemed very eager to dance with Ackmena. Bludlow (5) was a Rodian wearing the classic Rodian attire. Ackmena asked him to leave when the curfew was announced, but when he refused she called him heartless. Eventually Bludlow danced with Ackmena so perhaps he had experience with the famed Rodian Theater. Of course, Bludlow couldn’t possibly be Greedo (since he was shot one year before), but still the two Rodians are often mixed-up. Bludlow can be identified by his very bright orange vest and unusually long and thin fingers. The background is always an indication to identify a character in the cantina. A photo with a bright background usually means that it was taken during the production of the Holiday Special. A third patron who has sometimes been given a wrong identity is Deneb Both (6), a female Ithorian forester who desired to leave Tatooine. Deneb can be found at the bar and is wearing a dark gray/brown cape that covers her arms. Momaw Nadon from A New Hope wears a brown shirt that doesn’t cover his arms. Another character that sometimes gets mixed-up is the Talz known as Caldera Righim (7). This Talz can be identified by his beige shirt and a shoulder belt. He was a pacifist and a good friend of Wuher. When the patrons were forced to leave the cantina, Caldera appeared to be drunk. The last one with an often mistaken identity is the Snivvian known as Zutmore (8). Zutmore was used by Kenner on the card of their vintage Snaggletooth figure. This Snivvian was first known as Zutton, but Zutton appears in A New Hope and he looks different. Hasbro even made a Zutton figure in 2001, but then Decipher called this character Rachalt Hyst. In Rogues Gallery of Star Wars Insider #144, Leland Chee went back to basics and gave this Snivvian her name from the Holiday Special script: Zutmore. Ackmena had once lent money to Zutmore, but still she refused to leave her place at the bar near Kelbo.
Sometimes, however, things are just as they seem. A few of the patrons in the Holiday Special cantina are indeed the same characters from A New Hope. Bom Vimdin (9) was an Advozse smuggler and mercenary. He shared tables with the Clone Wars veteran Solomahal. They were about the only patrons who left the cantina when Ackmena asked them to. Bom’s wearing a completely different outfit in this scene though, with a blue vest. Hem Dazon (10), an Arcona scout addicted to salt, was also present, but he (his head) can only be seen passing swiftly through the screen. Not unusual, since his “costume” did not extend beyond the mask. Pons “Brainiac” Limbic (11) was a Siniteen who joined Thorp at a table after getting a drink at the bar. He was able to calculate hyperspace jumps without any help from navigational equipment. Arleil Schous (12) was threatened by an Abyssin called Cyceyed, who pointed a knife at him. According to Decipher, this Defel mercenary operated as a contact for the Rebel Alliance. His mask was actually recycled from an obscure 1974 Halloween show. Two other characters that caused a stir that evening were Trinto Duaba (13) and Kardue’sai’Malloc (14), who went by the alias “Labria” on Tatooine. The Stenness Shifter and the Devaronian entered the cantina when Ackmena had already closed it. Labria pulled a blaster and Tork wanted to intervene, but Ackmena decided the night should continue peacefully. The last characters who also appeared in A New Hope were the Duros Ohwun De Maal (15) and his wife Chachi De Maal (16), better known by their aliases Ellorrs Madak and Baniss Keeg. The owners of Docking Bay 94 were found at the bar, talking to each other. On the Star Wars Screen Entertainment CD-ROM from 1994, the De Maals were called Bringe and Probos.
The Bith band playing the repertoire of the Modal Nodes is in fact the Modal Nodes (17) themselves. There has been some confusion as Figrin D’an is called by his nickname “Barbarine.” In this scene there are only five of eight members present, which are Figrin “Barbarine” D’an, Tedn Dahai, Tech Mo’r, Ickabel G’ont and Sun’il Ei’de. The song they play is called “Mad About Me.” Later on, when the curfew is announced by the Galactic Empire and the patrons are requested to leave the establishment, they assist Ackmena with her song “Goodnight, But Not Goodbye.” Exactly who is who is difficult to establish, since some of the instruments are different than those used in A New Hope (Tech is not playing his Ommni Box, for instance).
In addition to the regular patrons of Chalmun’s cantina, the Holiday Special introduced several other new characters, some of which even represent previously unseen species. The Abyssin Cyceyed (18) could be confused with Myo from A New Hope. The mask looks slightly different from the mask used in A New Hope with a closed eye (which was actually a moving part of the mask) and some added hair. He emits a high-pitched scream when he’s forcibly removed from his seat by Tork after drawing a knife at Arleil Shous. At the same time that Cyceyed is thrown out of the door, another new patron steps in, probably the weirdest of the bunch. Krelman (19) looks like an ordinary (although somewhat ugly) human being, but he most certainly is not. Much to Ackmena’s dismay, he brings a flower and wants to talk, instead of ordering a drink. When he finally orders, he pours the drink in a hole on top of his head. In addition to that, he sports six fingers and a nonreciprocal crush on Ackmena. Kelbo (20), who is arguing with Zutmore at the bar and told by Ackmena to drink more, is a M’shento’su’Nikto (or Southern Nikto). Later on, he seems to be having a much better time with Zutmore, which looks more like flirting than arguing. After the issuing of the curfew, he’s not really eager to leave, even though Ackmena asks him to. Thorp (21), a pale-skinned Sakiyan, is one of the other patrons Ackmena personally requests to leave, as she has apparently done a lot for him in the past. After ignoring the request, Ackmena gets angry and accuses him of having a short memory. We’ve seen Djas Puhr, another Sakiyan, in the cantina in A New Hope, but he had a black skin. It has since been established that Sakiyans have a wide variety of skin colors, including red, green, and blue. The same goes for the Gotal Dratun (22), who sits at the table with Bludlow. His costume is different from the one used for Feltipern Trevagg in A New Hope, as is his hair color. An often-missed second Gotal in that scene, wearing brown robes, also has gray hair, so it appears as if this mask was newly created or altered for the Holiday Special. Dratun was named in the Rogues Gallery of Star Wars Insider #144, using a discarded concept name for Feltipern.
Sitting at the bar is the Hamadryas Cebann Veekan (23), who was an actor that gladly joined Ackmena in her performances. Imperial pro-human bias made his work as a holo-performer more and more difficult and he eventually ended up on Tatooine. After the Battle of Endor, Cebann would perform in a stage production based on the life of Luke Skywalker. Initially known as “Baboon Man,” Cebann received his name and background in the “What’s the Story?” feature, naming his species after the hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas). That online feature also provided a background story for Myhr Rho (24), a Cathar that was previously known as “Lion Man.” Although he was born on Cathar, Rho was raised on Tatooine and would operate the Skywalker Tour after the Battle of Endor, bringing tourists to important locations of Luke’s life on Tatooine. In the scene, he’s obviously too drunk to walk out on his own, and is carried to the door by Tork. Ket Maliss (25), a Dashade male, is very difficult to spot in the scene, but he’s sitting in one of the alcoves along the wall. Decipher used his image with an A New Hope cantina background in the Customizable Card Game, but he actually only appears in the Holiday Special. His background story was created in Secrets of the Sisar Run in 1997, in which he was connected to the Black Sun crime syndicate. The giant mouse-like creature that is offered a drink and a hug by Ackmena during her song is Rungs (26), a rather large Tintinna (or Tin Tin Dwarf). These murine beings hailed from the planet Rinn. The last character that is completely new is Graven R’ube (27), an Y’bith (or Ghost Bith) sitting at one of the tables with Caldera Righim. Ghost Bith were a result of mutagenic abnormalities caused by the biological warfare between the cities of Nozho and Weogar. The Y’bith were elaborated on in a “What’s the Story?” entry that focused on the species rather than the character in the Holiday Special scene.
Some other patrons used (partially) recycled costumes from A New Hope. Solomahal (28), who Ackmena mistakenly called Helpmus, is a Lutrillian sitting at a table with Bom Vimdin. Originally, Solomahal was a name used for one of the Lutrillians in A New Hope, and he has a rich background story in various sources. However, the Rogues Gallery in Star Wars Insider 133 established the Lutrillians from A New Hope as Ownellco and Atheloe, leaving Solomahal to appear only in the Holiday Special. Yamnoss (29) uses the mask of M’iiyoom Onith from A New Hope, as well as a discarded production name that was created as a pun on “Yam Nose”. This H’nemthe can be seen on photo footage, but is impossible to spot in the actual scene. A second, red-eyed Advozse called Kol Nurn (30) is sitting at a table in one of the alcoves with Rungs, the Tintinna. Nurn uses most of the outfit worn by Bom Vimdin, but the Advozse in blue was already established as Bom in a feature that was once published on the StarWars.com website.
When this ragtag bunch of patrons was confronted by the implemented Imperial curfew, they had no intention at all to leave the cantina and they started to protest. Finally Ackmena promised one last free drink on the house to the “gentlemen” and this golden idea was received with a lot more enthusiasm. She started to sing “Goodnight, But Not Goodbye” with the assistance of the Modal Nodes and the patrons became enthralled by the tune. Ackmena succeeded in luring the customers towards the door by her singing and all the patrons followed her in a single file, singing, screeching, and dancing all the way. After saying goodbye to Tork, Sosio Kakra, and the Modal Nodes, Ackmena closed the cantina in a sorrowful mood, but found Krelman still waiting for her at the bar…
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium does research for the Rogues Gallery feature in Star Wars Insider under the supervision of Leland Chee. He’s president and co-founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub. He’s a collector, an administrator for Yodapedia, and has written the backstories for Swilla Corey, Tzizvvt, Wam Lufba and Maxiron Agolerga.
Kevin Beentjes (Wild Whiphid) is a molecular biologist working at the Dutch natural history museum. He’s currently involved in the creation of the Rogues Gallery feature in Star Wars Insider, is an editor for TeeKay-421, an administrator for Yodapedia, and fascinated with the myriad of alien life forms, in that galaxy far, far away.