As even a casual Star Wars fan knows, the character of Boba Fett made his first film appearance in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. More devoted Star Wars nerds know that the masked bounty hunter was introduced to the world in a cartoon featurette from 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special. But according to the official Star Wars website, Boba Fett actually made his public debut even earlier, at a small California parade. Yes, a parade. Watch footage below that was recently recirculated.
Did you know that Boba Fett made his first appearance at the San Anselmo Parade on 24th Sept, 1978, before the Holiday Special?! pic.twitter.com/q8Z94Sb6ib
— Filmumentaries (@jamieswb) November 16, 2016
Wearing a prototype costume, Boba Fett marched alongside Darth Vader in the 1978 San Anselmo Country Fair Parade in California, which took place in September of that year. (The holiday special would air on television for the first and only time a month later.) The man playing Fett was Duwayne Dunham, assistant film editor on Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, who was chosen to wear the suit because it fit him better than it did the other Lucasfilm employees. In a 2014 interview on StarWars.com, Dunham spoke about that day, which was only covered by the local San Anselmo press. (At the time, the town was home to Lucasfilm’s headquarters.) Although fans weren’t yet familiar with the character, some parade-goers requested autographs, leaving Dunham temporarily flummoxed. “I remember trying to shout through that mask [at Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz], ‘Is it one T or two Ts?‘” Dunham told the website. “And him saying, ‘I think it’s two!'”
Understandably, Dunham felt personally invested in the character, and said that everyone at Lucasfilm was dismayed to learn about Fett’s throwaway death in Jedi. “We kinda mounted a protest saying ‘You can’t do that to Boba Fett! He’s deserving of more!'” he said. “But they threw him in…and as you know, fans have never let him die.”