Camp Collision: Bea Arthur in the “Star Wars Holiday Special”

Bea Arthur and Stars Wars! The prequel movies would have been way better with her in them.
Bea Arthur Star Wars Holiay SpecialBea Arthur Star Wars Holiay Special

Bea Arthur and Star Wars, a pair as unlikely as a Wookie mounting a Bantha. But yes, Virginia, it did happen in the not-to-be-believed “Stars Wars Holiday Special” where Arthur played a barkeep at the Mos Eisley Cantina made famous in the first Star Wars film (sorry, Episode IV). Her segment resembles mostly an extended Saturday Night Live skit without any real attempt at humor. She fends off an amorous customer played by Harvey Korman who pours his drinks into the top of his head, then must motivate the patrons to obey an Empire-imposed curfew, singing “Goodnight, But Not Goodbye”, composed by Ken and Mitzie Welch and interpolated with the Cantina Band song.

Why she agreed to do this is a mystery, but perhaps being involved with Star Wars which was a sensation at the time was enough to lure her in, especially since she had the chance to sing. Still, she’s great in whatever she does, watchable no matter how terrible the material. However, Arthur usually chose her vehicles more carefully than this.

The show aired on CBS on November 17, 1978 and was such an embarrassment that it was never re-aired nor released on video, surviving via dubs of video copies made from the original broadcast and passed around from fan to fan or bootlegged for sale at conventions. Here’s a fairly good-quality clip, featuring Arthur’s song in the fiasco.

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