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The story of how Boba Fett's first official appearance was in a 1978 California parade
Fans didn't know who the character was, but that didn't stop their excitement.
When Boba Fett was first created, no one involved could have guessed that he’d explode into being one of the most popular Star Wars characters there is. A new documentary released on Disney+ Day, titled Under the Helmet: The Legacy of Boba Fett, shows the first time that the public got a look at the future phenomenon.
It wasn't in a movie and it wasn't on television. It happened at a local parade in San Anselmo, CA in 1978.
“Boba Fett was actually in this Marin County parade,” legendary sound designer Ben Burtt says in the documentary, going on to say that George Lucas himself lived in the town, and they wanted to put something Star Wars related in the parade. “They put Vader, and this strange character Boba Fett, who people didn’t know, into the local parade.”
Lucasfilm Creative Director Dave Filoni says, “It’s hard to imagine a local parade where Star Wars characters, not just like people in costumes, the actual screen-used costumes are walking down the street… but that’s exactly what happened.” Accompanying shots show both Vader and Fett interacting with fans, and children especially going crazy.
Fett had already undergone the process of being turned into a bounty hunter after initially being designed to be a special kind of Imperial trooper. His outfit in these shots is indeed the screen-used version, with the paint job and gadgets that fans would come to know. Here, however, he hadn't even made his animated debut in the Star Wars Holiday Special yet. “It was a strange sight, because Boba hadn’t been put on film yet and become well known,” Burtt says.
Fans may not have known who the character was, but he is seen being crowded for autographs anyway. According to Lucas himself, “That’s where it really started.”
The documentary also pays tribute to the late Jeremy Bulloch, who donned the suit for both of his appearances in the original trilogy. He also appeared out of the suit as an Imperial Officer in The Empire Strikes Back, and as one of Bail Organa’s pilots in Revenge of the Sith. Bulloch was famous for not only for playing Fett, but for being incredible with fans. He’d often show up at conventions dressed in full costume.
Naturally, this look under Boba’s helmet concludes with excitement about Fett-mania’s resurgence. Not only did the character return in The Mandalorian, he’s about to get his very own spin-off series called The Book of Boba Fett. From a local parade in 1978 to his own series in 2021, Fett has definitely come a long way. To paraphrase Bulloch's oft-used autograph line, he's "stayed cool."
Under the Helmet: The Legacy of Boba Fett is streaming on Disney+ right now.