I was 6 years old when Star Wars hit theaters in May 1977 and my dad took me to see it on the big screen.
We lived in Los Angeles at the time, and I can’t remember for certain whether or not we actually attended the footprint ceremony at Mann’s Chinese Theater that August. I do remember that the adults in my life talked about the event and still called the theater “Grauman’s,” which had been the official name until 1973.
And I had a photograph of myself with Darth Vader, standing in front of that same theater, his black gloved hands around my throat à la the Death Star scene (shown at right). I don’t know if it was taken during this event, but when else would Darth Vader have been in front of Mann’s? Maybe they had a costumed character hanging around in the days that followed, for those who came to see his footprints after the cement had set.
The framed photo hung on my bedroom wall when I was growing up. I don’t know where it is, now.
I later dressed up as Princess Leia for Halloween. I do have that picture.
I grew up with Disney princesses, but Leia was my hero. A princess but also a spy, rebel leader, handy with a blaster, strong, sassy, intelligent and kind. She was one of my early sci-fi female role models — along with Ripley, Uhura and Sarah Connor.
I read Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster before seeing The Empire Strikes Back and had hoped Leia would get with Luke. The whole Han/scoundrel and Luke/brother thing really disappointed me. Made my mom happy, though.
~ J.L. Hilton
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