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05/23/2013 11:53 am ET

'Return Of The Jedi' And 'The Wrath of Khan': Crazy Pre-Internet Starlog Magazine Rumors

Starlog/Lucasfilm

"No, there is another." This one line spoken by Yoda during "The Empire Strikes Back" set off three years of speculation before it was revealed in "Return of the Jedi" that Leia was Luke Skywalker's twin sister and, therefore, the "other" hope to defeat the Dark Side. Yet there was no Internet to post every hare-brained theory like there is today, so where did self-respecting nerds go for their dose of rumors? There's where the great "Starlog" magazine came in.

J.W. Rinzler's wonderful "The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" (to be released Oct. 1) recounts a disagreement between George Lucas and his collaborators over Luke Skywalker's new lightsaber -- basically, "how did he get it?" In the end, Lucas shrugged off the need an explanation, pointing out that the worst that could happen is that someone would write a letter to "Starlog."


Back in December, I went through the three years of "Starlog" issues published between the release of "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back" and reprinted all of the crazy rumors that were floating around in an attempt to prove that we are not that much different today. (My favorite will always be "Han Solo crosses lightsabers with Darth Vader. Although Han doesn't really know how to use the weapon, he's doing fairly well when suddenly the light beams are 'fused' together and Han's and Vader's 'life forces' are intermingled. Luke has a chance to come to the rescue -- but if he kills Vader, might he not kill his friend too?")

For the 30th anniversary of "Return of the Jedi" and the release of "Star Trek Into Darkness," I revisited the New York Public Library and combed through every issue of "Starlog" between 1980 and 1983 -- which covers all of the rumors and the published letters from readers in the "Communication" section for both "Return of the Jedi" and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (with some "Raiders of the Lost Ark" thrown in, too).

The rumors are not as out of control as they were before "Empire" -- probably because viewers were left with fairly specific questions after "Empire" -- but, yes, there are still some bizarre ones. And the mailbag includes one letter from a rather miffed Leonard Nimoy responding to a crazy rumor about Spock's death in "The Wrath of Khan." Here, without further ado, is what I found:

July 1980: This prediction given during an interview with "Star Wars" producer Gary Kurtz was a little off. If Lucas and Kurtz had doubled their time estimate, they would have been just about right.

Lucas and Kurtz estimate that it will take up to 20 years to film all nine of the "Star Wars" stories. Which adds up to an 18-hour serial -- surely the longest ever conceived, much less filmed!

August 1980: In an interview with Harrison Ford, he gives away what might have been a spoiler in 1980, even though he doesn't think so.

"It doesn't spoil anything for people to know I'm coming back," said Ford in his suite at New York's Plaza Hotel. "They know I'm gonna get out of that carbon stuff. But it's how I do it, not if -- but when.

August 1980: Starlog polled a group of people who had been waiting in line to see "The Empire Strikes Back." One of them was an actor by the name of Jerry Orbach, who would go on to play Det. Lenny Briscoe on "Law & Order" 12 years later. (Orbach was with his son, Chris.)

Jerry Orbach, actor: When I was his age we'd go to the serials on Saturday afternoon. You'd see the movie, then be left up in the air until the next Saturday. Now, you have to wait three years or until the next one comes out. I think from a little more adult point of view, that this internal fight between good and evil and the way of a Jedi master, that sort of Zen philosophy, is a fascinating thing and it came out much more strongly in this picture. It's quite easy to see how Luke's father could have taken the so-called path of darkness and turn himself into Darth Vader and now Luke has to fight those same temptations. It's a fascinating story. I think it was more adult than "Star Wars."

September 1980: A Starlog reader doesn't quite buy that Vader is Luke's father, then somehow at least partly guesses the relationship between Luke and Leia.

Is Luke related to Vader? Most think so now that Vader came out and said it. Well, I say, do you believe everything you hear? Vader may have lied just to enlist Luke to his side. Vader would then dispose of Luke once he got what what he wanted. About the love triangle: For the moment, let us say Han gets the girl. What of poor Luke? Where does he fit in? He fits in very nicely. Luke is Leia's half-brother. Luke and Leia could share a common mother. She might have left Vader on his turning to the dark side. He may have cast her and his infant son away. This theory works whether Vader is really Luke's father or not. The concept of lovers turning out to be brother and sister was a popular device in classical mythology and Arabian tales. I hope that I have offered some fun food for thought for the next three years.

September 1980: Another reader was not happy with the end of "Empire" and seems quite concerned about what happened to Bespin.

The movie should not have ended until Han was either killed by Boba Fett or Jabba or rescued by Lando Calrissian or Chewbacca, the former, preferably. Also, the fate of Bespin is not told? Was it taken by Lando's troops, taken by Imperial troops or destroyed by Vader?

September 1980: Speculation on "the other" that Yoda mentioned during "Empire."

And, one of the biggest questions in my mind is who is Yoda's "other" student? Could it possibly be a girl -- a love interest for Luke?

September 1980: A reader is not a fan of Han Solo's now iconic response.

Somebody should tell Harrison Ford that when a woman passionately tells a man, "I love you," "I know" is not an an acceptable response. That scene was not funny, it was infuriating.

October 1980: More speculation on "the other."

I suggest Princes Leia. She is young enough for the training; she withstood Darth Vader's tortures; she is dedicated to the cause; Princes Leia, not Lando, "heard" Luke's cries for help; Han Solo is not in shape to be going anywhere for a while and he is too old. I wouldn't be surprised if in the third film, Leia, instead of Luke, destroys the Emperor. Of course, it will be the year 2000 before we find out.

October 1980:

Could it be Vader himself? Considering that there was an equilibrium of power between the good and dark sides of the Force, it would not be impossible to turn Vader into the antithesis of what he is now, especially if Luke (who, except for Yoda may be the most powerful member of the good side of the Force) is truly his son.

November 1980: Mark Hamill asked George Lucas if Hamill would have been replaced if Hamill had been killed in a car accident.

He said, "No." There'd be a script change that would have found a long lost brother or sister, something genetic, so that the Force would be with them.

November 1980: Hamill also speculated on "the other." Also: oops. (Remember this one for later.)

But George insisted it has always been part of the storyline, though he never told me who it might be. Somebody suggested it might be the Princess, but I think that would be a letdown.

July 1981: Even more speculation on "the other." Maybe it's Han Solo?

Many "Star Wars" enthusiasts have speculated that Solo will survive his frozen ordeal because he is Yoda's "other one" capable of harnessing the Force. Upon analysis, such a development seems to have been foreshadowed in Han's dialogue exchanges with Luke and Obi Wan in the first film, and in the space pirate's continuing personal growth in both SW movies.

July 1981: In an interview with George Lucas, he downplays expectations for the next movie, then titled "Revenge of the Jedi."

I think that "Revenge," for better or worse, is going to put the whole thing in perspective. I don't know whether people are going to like it that much, but the truth of it is, that's the way the film was originally designed.

September 1981: A reader can't wait for more Indiana Jones adventures after seeing "Raiders of the Lost Ark." George Lucas explains that both sequels are to be prequels. (Only "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" was a prequel.)

I truly hope that it is just the first of many Indiana Jones adventures!

George Lucas reports that it's actually the third of Indy's adventures.

September 1981: A reader is not thrilled about the rumor of Han Solo's death.

I was shocked to read that Han Solo will be dropped in the next chapter of "Star Wars," "Revenge of the Jedi." I'm not going to pay four or five dollars to see him get saved then lost all in one movie!

September 1981: In an interview with Harrison Ford, he states that he will never do a "Star Wars" movie again -- then leaves the door open for (what I'm sure he didn't realize would be) 34 years later.

The only thing I know for sure is that "Revenge" is my last one, although there's been some talk ...

October 1981: In an interview with "Empire" writer Lawrence Kasdan, he makes it clear that he won't be writing "Return of the Jedi." Kasdan and J.J. Abrams should get along well. (By press time of this particular issue, Starlog had reported that Kasdan would indeed be writing the next "Star Wars" movie.)

I can say, though, that I won't be writing the next "Star Wars" or Indiana Jones film, although I am interested in how Indy can be developed.

January 1982: A Starlog reader named Leonard Nimoy is not thrilled about the way Starlog printed a rumor that Spock would die in the upcoming "Star Trek II."

In the November issue you report that the death of Spock was "brought about by Leonard Nimoy's request."

In your January issue you reiterated the same report and then you quoted "Star Trek II" executive producer Harve Bennett as saying "... Nimoy did not insist on killing the character as a prerequisite to his appearing in the second film."

I was not contacted for a statement, but here it is: Harve Bennett was right, you were wrong ...... twice.

Yours for more accurate journalism,

Leonard Nimoy

January 1982: Unlike today, people knew the villain in "Star Trek II" would be Khan (his name is in the title), but the guesses on the film's plot were wild.

The "Star Trek II" rumor mill has been working overtime lately. It now appears that Khan Noonian Singh (Ricardo Montalban) and his group of terrorists steal a weather controlling machine from the Federation for their own doomsday uses, which include trapping the Enterprise in a cloud.

January 1982: A fan was so mad about Spock's rumored death, he wrote an open letter to Paramount. (I'm glad that we live in a world today in which we don't overreact about "Star Trek" movies.)

They cannot afford to lose a projected $28 million if the "Trek" fans do not view, or care to view the movie sequel. I believe I have a plausible solution. The following is an open letter to Paramount containing my resolution.

Why not have Mr. Spock, a superior philosophical being (a member of the Vulcan race) evolve to a higher plane of existence (consciousness, if you will) rather than just die? During this evolution, he can cast-off his body like so much snake skin and grow spiritually ... As Leonard Nimoy is finally freed of his earthly bonds to Mr. Spock, the fans will begin to pick apart the "newcomer." Who knows, maybe even learn to love again. Our curiosity will bring us to the theaters but you, Mr./Ms. Paramount, must keep us there!

May 1982: Reports are that Obi-Wan Kenobi will appear "in the flesh" in (the still titled) "Revenge of the Jedi." Also, a report on what will become the prequels.

According to producer Howard Kazanjian, Kenobi will appear "in the flesh ... Our dead is a different sort of thing," he told Variety ... Some word on the first/next trilogy: All new characters are in order; however, young counterparts to Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker may make an appearance.

July 1982: Starlog reports that Star Trek II has been renamed, as to not conflict with "Revenge of the Jedi."

Paramount Pictures has changed the name of "Star Trek: The Vengeance of Khan" to "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan." The change, which came in early April, was made to avoid confusing the audience between the second "Star Trek" feature film and the third chapter of George Lucas' "Star Wars" series, "Revenge of the Jedi." The "Trek" film's original title was "Star Trek: The Genesis Project" which was almost immediately redubbed "Star Trek II."

July 1982: As a joke, Starlog looked ahead to the year 2000 and what a story might look like then.

Star Wars 12, "The Sons of Skywalker," has completed production. It will be projected entirely in 3-D laser-holovision, and will have 27-channel stunsurround sound. Audiences will be required to present proof of medical fitness before entering the theater.

July 1982: Starlog columnist David Gerrold reported that multiple endings were filmed of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." The director of "Khan," Nicholas Meyer, took exception with that and wrote Starlog a letter.

David Gerrold in your May issue states that "Star Trek II" was filmed with multiple endings and implies that which of these putative endings was going to be used was in question and depended on a number of variables.

As the director of the film I would like to state for the record that this is untrue. The shooting script for "Star Trek II," (subtitled, "The Undiscovered Country"), had only one ending and only one ending was filmed. That ending was subsequently enhanced with the addition of some special effects but the meaning of the story remained unchanged.

What IS true is the Paramount Pictures bruited about the multiple ending rumor for whatever publicity value they felt it was worth. At no time did I participate in any of this rumor-manufacturing.

Nicholas Meyer

February 1983: Then there's this strange rumor that the prequels would be filmed out of order.

Sidney Ganis, Lucasfilm's V.P. for Advertising and Publicity, announced that following "Revenge of the Jedi"'s release on May 25, 1983, the firm will begin plans for the next trilogy of films in the nine-part saga. Unlike this trilogy, the second of three, the first trilogy will be filmed in reverse order.

Ganis also told the press that following the first trilogy, the third and final trilogy will be filmed in chronological order.

May 1983: A reader is not happy about a rumor that Leia is killed in "Return of the Jedi."

A trailer for the film showed Leia falling down a trapdoor of some kind. Carrie Fisher said in a recent interview that this was the end of "Star Wars" for her. I know none of the original characters are going to be in the next sequel, but I expected them in the future films. If Princess Leia dies, it will be unforgivable, and I refuse to see "Jedi" as many times as I've seen "Star Wars" and "Empire Strikes" back.

June 1983: Starlog reports that Steven Spielberg will make "Schindler's List" after he completes the second Indiana Jones movie. "Schindler's List" would eventually get made in 1993.

Steven Spielberg will direct the screen adaptation of the best-selling novel, "Schindler's List." Universal made the announcement in March as Spielberg toiled on pre-production for the next Indiana Jones saga ... "Indiana Jones & the Temple of Death."

July 1983: Remember what Hamill said about Leia being "the other"? Hamill gives another interview post-"Jedi."

At first, I felt one of the plot developments was too obvious and conventional. Then I realized you must take into account the trilogy which comes before and the trilogy which comes after this one.

September 1983: So, how did the fans react to Luke and Leia being siblings? Not the best.

Are they joking? Making Vader Luke's father is bad enough, but Leia as Luke's TWIN sister! Come on, Mr. Lucas, get serious. Soon, instead of the "Star Wars" saga, it will be referred to as "The Brady Bunch of Outer Space." Next thing you know, we'll be expected to believe that Han, Lando and Chewie are cousins.

November 1983: And just like on the message boards of today, readers of Starlog expressed their love for "Jedi" and, yes, their disappointment. Yes, here are the letters to Starlog that George Lucas predicted.

And how about the way Ben Kenobi sits Luke down and gives him a crash in all the long-awaited secrets in one five-minute scene, then it's back to the Muppets. We also can't forget how an army of laser-armed warriors is thrown into chaos by a bunch of stone-throwing teddy bears. I mean, come on. It's a big world out here. Some of us have to be intelligent.

I heard "I have a bad feeling about this" at least twice. it was a good line in the first movie, but it's a little tired now.

I would like to have seen Darth Vader as the clone of Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker. So what if Leia is Luke's twin sister! It's a nice idea, but nothing is done with it.

Sure the Ewoks are cute, but they make Han, Luke and Leia look like idiots ... it even appears that Harrison Ford cannot keep a straight face in many parts of this battle scene.

The script was terrible. Not only was it completely inconsistent with the first two films, but it lacked originality. Half of the dialogue was simply lines culled from the other films. The main threat, the Death Star, was a rerun. The major surprise of the film was that two people we had thought unrelated were related, as in "Empire."

Mark Hamill says in Starlog #72 that there were a number of fake scenes written for "Return of the Jedi," in order to keep the movie's secrets from leaking out. Apparently one of those fake scenes, the one in which it is revealed to Luke that Leia is his sister, got filmed and was put into the real movie. This has to be a fake scene.

This bit about Luke and Leia being Twins??!?! ... I had always wanted Luke to end up with Leia, but I realized she would run off with Han ... Just for once, I would like to see a strong male/female relationship that resembles Starsky & Hutch rather than Romeo & Juliet. But, no, Lucas had to make them family.

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.


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