Tomorrow is Life Day, and as you’re steering your starship to Kashyyyk to celebrate with your Wookiee relatives, take a moment to reflect on the best possible way to commemorate this intergalactic holiday: By watching the Star Wars Holiday Special.

This week, Mental Floss published a comprehensive oral history of the 1978 special. Well, let’s put it another way: They have some comments from the people involved who actually admit to working on it. A few of the stars are no longer with us of course (RIP Bea Arthur). But some flat-out deny they ever appeared in this piece of televised art, and others say they use it to repel houseguests who stick around too long.

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Here are just a few details from the oral history that I didn’t know before and I’m not sure I’m happy to know now:

  • George Lucas came up with the concept, which he thought would be a good way to sell toys. “His idea was basically for a Wookiee Rosh Hashanah. A furry Earth Day.”
  • Lucas told screenwriters that Han was married to a Wookiee, “but that we couldn’t mention that because it would be controversial.”
  • Lucasfilm and Kenner produced prototype action figures of Chewbacca’s family (including his child, named Lumpy) but they were never released.
  • Bea Arthur, who sings a song in the cantina scene, didn’t know anything about Star Wars or the characters. “She was pretty much [her television character] Maude.”
  • Jefferson Starship appears in the special, but the team was also working on another project with Lucasfilm and the Bee Gees. Nothing ever came of it.
  • When the high-budget television special aired, it lost the ratings war to The Love Boat, “with a marked drop-off following the conclusion of the cartoon at the halfway point.”

If you haven’t seen the special before, it’s definitely worth one of those pajama-clad, gift wrap-strewn Christmas afternoon viewings. Disney’s been quashing uploads on YouTube but we found one version in its entirety.

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Enjoy. And thank the maker that the Star Wars franchise has been wrested away from George Lucas once and for all.

[Mental Floss]

Follow the author at @awalkerinLA

Photo via Star Wars Wikia