Thursday, 29 November 2018


Luke Skywalker fights back in this classic poster. Note the laser blasts added/airbrushed on by Ralph McQuarrie.

With huge demand for merchandise with the release of Star Wars in the US, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher returned to play their characters in mid to late Summer 1977 for a special set of photos for poster use via the Factors Etc. company. Presumably taken at a studio in Los Angeles, the shots were photographed and designed for poster use by the legendary American stills photographer Bob Seidemann (known for his photo work of famous people, rock album covers and concert posters). As well as Luke and Leia, Seidemann would also handle the now classic and evocative image of Darth Vader (whose costume was inhabited States-side by Kermit Eller, a Don Post Studios staffer who'd wear the costume for Lucasfilm publicity) and droids Threepio (who inhabited the golden suit is unknown) and Artoo (using the existing three-legged remote control prop).

Above top and below are those primary posters, which Seidemann signed for sale before his passing last November 2017.

The defiant Leia.

The iconic Dark Lord.

Threepio and Artoo: The Laurel and Hardy of Star Wars.

Here's a selection of outtake images linked to the shooting sessions.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill):

Note some wiring on the (likely rented and modified) blaster that's come loose.

Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher):

Note that Carrie Foster holds a differently modified blaster gun (another likely rented prop) to the one in Mark Hamill's shoot.

Threepio and Artoo:

Darth Vader (Kermit Eller):

Vader with hand open for lightsaber and blade to be animated in if required.

Vader with a different lightsaber handle. The blade would ultimately be added on by Ralph McQuarrie.

Adapting the poster to B/W print use.

Other curios:

The early Luke poster from Factors Etc. that was likely unproduced.

Luke would be cut out from the classic David Steen shoot of 1976.

The stunning early concept painting from Ralph McQuarrie of the female Luke and droids, on a mountain top towards what would become Mos Eisley.

Factors Etc. had prior put together a rather lacklustre poster idea for Luke Skywalker - a shoddy composite of one of Ralph McQuarrie's early conceptual paintings for the film (which featured a female Luke) along with a poorly cut out shot of Mark Hamill as Luke from the classic David Steen group shot of the hero cast, taken in the UK - Summer 1976 (a shot which would famously become its own poster from Scandicor and appear on a classic Rolling Stone magazine cover). The early Luke poster also incorrectly labels him a 'Jedi Knight', which doesn't happen until Return of the Jedi. Perhaps the poor reception to this poster concept was the catalyst for the Seidemann shoot quickly happening? The name brand of Seidemann on the poster (like Annie Leibovitz) being a guarantee of quality recognition to Lucasfilm/The Star Wars Corporation and American purchasers.

The space cowboy himself: Han Solo!

Seidemann would also go on to take pics of Harrison Ford as Han Solo for merchandise/publicity purposes that appeared in 1978 (perhaps for a planned Factors Etc. poster that ultimately never happened). The time period in which these Ford images were lens-captured hasn't been locked down- Ford has short hair in the shots so they were surely taken at some point by either late Autumn 1977 or early 1978 (either just before or after completing the World War II adventure (hence the shorter hair look) Force Ten from Navarone, which Ford filmed from around October 1977 into early 1978. Some of the shorter haired Han poses from the Seidemann shoot would appear via TOPPS Cards sets 4 and 5 during early to mid-1978 (exact card set release dates unknown) and then used for potential publicity for The Star Wars Holiday Special that November. The location of the shoot is not known either, but it may well have been whilst Ford was in the UK long-term between 1977 and 1978.

Additionally, all of the Seidemann shoots had rear angle shots taken of the actors in their character's costumes- presumably for future costume archive reference by Lucasfilm for the upcoming sequel.

Han Solo (Harrison Ford) with blaster:

Note the modified blaster is the same one used for the Carrie Fisher shoot.

It's likely that this shot of Ford was taken from around the same time, or as part of the publicity shoot session.

Han Solo with pistol:

Note that this is not the modified pistol Ford used in the UK 1976 shooting. It is likely another rented gun prop modified for this photo shoot.

If anyone else out there can help with more info and exact timeline dates, please get in touch.

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