Star Wars: The Film That Changed My Life Part 2

Written by Terri Hardin Jackson. Posted in Features

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Published on August 13, 2014 at 12:50 am with 5 Comments

UPDATE: A LOVELY DAY AT DISNEYLAND – Last Thursday,  my husband, Lindsey, and I were able to go to dinner at the newly remodeled Club 33. We decided to spend the day at Disneyland, not only would this be great fun, but would allow us to beat the traffic getting to Anaheim from Burbank.

We started our day by going to visit the Carnation Café; my friend Chandler always has a table waiting for me. This time, I had the added bonus of bumping into my dear friend, Oscar (we have known each other for a very long time and my husband hadn’t seen him in ages).

TERRI AND OSCAR AT CARNATION CAFE

TERRI AND OSCAR AT CARNATION CAFE

We had a delightful lunch. Oscar just loves Chandler, and we were completely entertained by Oscar and Chandler bantering back and forth.

Terri and Ann

Terri and Ann

Right after lunch, we popped over to California Adventure Park and had dessert at 1901. DJ and his lovely wife, Amy, were kind enough to take us over there, as my husband had never been before. Amy and I chatted and had a drink (Amy had a sparkling water and I had a coffee drink) while DJ showed my husband around and told him many of the great stories that go hand in hand at 1901.

TERRI W/ CLUB 33 SIGNATURE COCKTAIL WITH A DIAMOND ICE CUBE INSIDE.

TERRI W/ CLUB 33 SIGNATURE COCKTAIL WITH A DIAMOND SHAPED ICE CUBE INSIDE.

Then my husband and I went to Club 33 after walking around the park and catching a few rides. Because Club 33 now has a lounge, you can go in a little early and unwind before dinner. It was absolutely beautiful. The lounge is full of beautiful things that give you the hospitality that only Disney can provide. One of my favorite things at the new Club 33 is their signature cocktail. Although I’m not much of a drinker, I had to try this one, as it has a diamond shaped ice cube inside, and an amazing glass. Many wonderful people came and joined the dinner, including MiceChat Fave, Sam Gennawey. Such a magical time.

STAR WARS: THE FILM THAT CHANGED MY LIFE-PART 2

Okay. Now I had my costume, Chewbacca, as I told you about in Part One of the story. Great! But more important was that I needed to find someone who could guide me to my next step. How was I going to enter the amazing world of creature creation?

As I said before, there wasn’t the high tech stuff like we have today. I decided to comb the newspapers looking for any of the names I had written down while at the theater. My thinking was that surely one of them would give a lecture or talk somewhere.

Finally, after looking for several days, I found out that Rick Baker was going to give a talk at Long Beach University. Rick Baker was responsible for the Cantina scene characters in Star Wars. I really wasn’t too concerned about the talk…oh, I was interested, but I really wanted to meet with him and ask him how to do what he does.

The day came and I loaded up my car, affectionately called Vader 1, with my portfolio. And off I went.

I sat in the back of the room, my right leg bouncing up and down, as I eagerly waited for him to finish and for my chance to speak to him. I have a ton of energy and it always seems to show in my right leg when I’m sitting down, it just bounces.

Rick told some amazing stories, including the one where he played King Kong in the Dino De Laurentiis version of the film. Rick had a terrible cold and during the scene where King Kong had to climb the Empire State Building, snot kept filling up his mask, and draining out of the mouth. He was running a 102 fever while he wore that suit, and climbed up that miniature building in the middle of the night. The show must go on, right?

When the talk was over, everyone left, and I stayed waiting for the right moment. As Rick Baker was collecting and putting away his last few items, I spoke,

“Mr Baker?”
He looked up, surprised, as he was sure everyone had gone.
“May I ask you a question?”
He gestured for me to join him, and he asked what it was I needed.
My words gushed all together as if I had opened a flood-gate. When I was done, I breathlessly said, “I want to do what you do, how do I do that?”
He smiled and said, “Simple, you need examples of your work, like a portfolio.”
“Like this?” and I opened a large folio full of what I had been doing.
“Holy *!@#!”

He was very surprised to see all that I had done, and asked me how old I was. Then, after looking at my work, said I was pretty good and gave me a few names to look up, along with the best part of all…PHONE NUMBERS!

I hugged him, and I thanked him, I turned and skipped to my car. I had won!

I had the numbers, now I just needed the strength to pick up the phone and call these folks. My hand shaking, I dialed the first, and then the next. But, like most things, the more I did this, the easier it became.

Soon, after contacting a couple of the people Rick suggested, I was hired by several shops that had worked on Star Wars. This allowed me to hone my craft, but this was only the beginning.

I still continued to create my own costumes and go to conventions. Plus, I did hit my 100th viewing of Star Wars at the Chinese theater, and the manager gave me the six-face portrait poster of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, et al. that had hung in their marquee for that full year. I was so excited! I still have that poster today; the whole thing was televised.

A funny thing about the press is that they really want a story to be a bit sensational, so they cut out most of what they shot of me, and kept only the clip of me standing there in my Star Wars tee-shirt with my hair sticking out in all directions, as I said I had seen the film over 100 times.

I came off like a nut or, rather, more of a nut than usual.

This is also the perfect time to share with you how Star Wars played a part in getting me on the game show, The Price is Right. It was really crazy, as such is my life.

It was just after I had returned from Europe. I had a dear artist friend in college whose aunt just loved The Price is Right. Her aunt had tried several times to get tickets, they finally came in the mail. The only problem was that she had no way to get to CBS. She was crushed.

My friend called and asked me if I would drive them, and so there we were on our way to the studio, riding along in Vader 1. The aunt found the car’s breathing very funny, happy to be finally going to see the show she had dreamed of.

When we arrived at CBS Studios and I parked, my plan was to sit and wait for them as they went in. I didn’t own a TV at the time, and I really didn’t know this show at all, but the aunt insisted I go in with them. Reluctantly I went.

Here is how these shows work, for those of you who don’t know. CBS lines all the people with tickets up in 100 rows of 4 people each. Then a producer (I think) walks up and down these aisles of folks, chatting with them here and there.

This gentleman, seeing that my clothes were illustrated, and that I was wearing six buttons depicting slogans from Star Wars, stopped to ask me a couple of questions.

“Wow, you must really like Star Wars.”
“Yes, I’ve seen it 66 times, and I’ve been in Europe for three months.”
His eyes popped open.
“66 times! You must know the lines by heart. Who said this? ‘She doesn’t look like much but she’s got it where it counts.’”
“Oh Man! Han Solo, give me a hard one.” I smiled and looked back at him.
“Who said this? ‘Boo ta too ta Solo, Sa vee Ja lee. Jaba wan in she co sha, muy tranee wha tranee a niska, ha ha ha.’”
At this, his eyes widened and he laughed out loud, “Kid, you are something else,” and he left.

The woman standing to my right became upset, and told me that she had stood in this group four times, and always the person to her left was chosen for the show.

“Perhaps you should stand on the other end,” I told her smiling. I knew no one was going to put me on the show.

They put me on the show, my name was the third called. I walked down the aisle with my mouth hanging open, as my friends cheered with encouragement. I didn’t have any idea how this game worked.

At one point we were all asked to price a trash compactor (the machine that squishes your trash into a cool space-like cube). I was going to say $300, but the lady before me said that number, so I said $325.

Suddenly, the lights go off and the sirens sound, and Bob Barker points at me and says that I’m the one who hit the nail on the head and I’ve just won $100 bucks! Time to go up on stage.

I ended up winning about $3000 in cash and prizes. No car, as I told them I had a car and didn’t want a car. Seriously, I did that. Vader 1 was my baby.

Star Wars has been a God-send to me. I will always be thankful to George Lucas for creating this amazing group of films. (Episodes 4,5 and 6. NOT 1,2 and 3.)

As a matter of fact I’m even in his biography, Skywalking, The Life and Films of George Lucas, by Dale Pollack, on page 3 and in the index. This is a terrific feeling.

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lucasIndex

Soon it was time to go and see my favorite film in the Star Wars saga, The Empire Strikes Back. Next time, I’ll share with you what I had to go through just to see this film, an event that put my picture in the news coast to coast.

See you next time.

FEEDBACK

Thank you to all of you who shared your stories with me. It’s great to know that there are still a lot of fans out there, squids like myself, who continue to love and adore the films.

I have to give a shout out to my friends and fellow Star Wars comrades of old, Josie and Kim, great to hear from you. That was lovely surprise to hear from you both.

To those of you who really didn’t find these films as amazing as I did, I must ask you two questions. The first is, did you see it in 1977? And the second is, were you obsessed with science fiction?

Reason being that if you saw it much later than ’77, the impact would be very different, as there was just not anything to feed the science fiction squid at that time in the way of film. If you weren’t a science fiction fan at that time, this could be another reason. Just something to think about.

About Terri Hardin Jackson

Terri Hardin has designed attractions as a Disney Imagineer from 1987-1997. She's also a Jim Henson Puppeteer and has worked on over 42 film and TV projects including Ghostbusters & Captain EO. She currently creates Disney collectables and plays a Foster Farms Chicken.

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  • Internitty

    I love the way you tell these stories, reading them is like sitting here listening to you chat about them with me. Thank you for sharing your stories and I totally agree, I thank George Lucas for episodes 4, 5 and 6 too but I have blocked out 1, 2 and 3. I have really high hopes for episodes 7, 8 and 9 though.

  • rstar

    Terri, your stories are amazing! Do you still have Vader 1? And I agree totally about the impact of the films back when they were first released. It’s the same thing with Star Trek, if you had never seen the original series, but watched all of The Next Generation, and then tried to go back and watch Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock you might say “Well, this is rather campy. And what’s with all of the toggle switches?” :)

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    Love you and your stories Terri. You speak with so much passion! It’s no wonder that you’ve achieved so much success.

    Can’t wait for the next part of this tale.

  • darthgonzo

    True story! I was eight when starwars came out. AND I DID NOT WANT TO SEE IT! Cause earlyer that year me and my folks went to the twinplex and had the choice of seeing THE WIZ or INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS! My dad wanting to teach me about sci fi, chose INVASION. I spent the next hour having my eyes and ears covered by my parents until they saw the light and Yanked me out. Sci fi was done for me. Untill my m grandmother took me back to the movies pointed out the huge lines and called me chicken. Thank God she did!
    !!

  • QPerth

    Thanks for sharing more wonderful stories, I love reading them!