Rare Staw Wars Empire Hotline Recordings Found

Back in the Spring of 1980 in the months preceding the Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, Bantha Tracks, the original Star Wars Fan Club newsletter, reported that a telephone hotline was established that would permit fans to dial a special number and hear teasers about the movie several months before its scheduled release. Considered a find equivalent to the Holy Grail for Star Wars buffs, these recordings have been sought for years.

Now they have been found.

Somewhat like the search for evidence of the existence of Bigfoot, fans have scoured thrift shops, antique stores and yard sales hoping to fall upon the recordings of the four messages noted in the original article of the newsletter. These messages were recorded exclusively for the hotline by the movie’s stars: Mark Hamil (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and James Earl Jones (voice of Darth Vader).

The cassette copy of the phone messages is probably the only one in existence and it belongs to Craig Miller, who was George Lucas’ first director of fan relations. He generously shared his find, revealing five and not four recorded performances as originally thought. The fifth is a previously forgotten Princess Leia message recorded by Carrie Fisher.

In the words of Craig Miller:

“In late 1979, as the opening of The Empire Strikes Back was quickly racing toward us, I came up with the idea of doing a telephone line people could call for information about the movie. For the first five months of 1980, people could call a special 800 number and hear a message from one of the characters of the movie: Luke, Leia, Han, Darth Vader, or C-3PO.”

Telephone systems were not yet computerized back in 1980 and by the first week, so many people called the number that AT &T could not handle all the calls.  Miller was forced to issue a press release apologizing to all media for offering the number and not being able to accommodate all of the calls. They increased the number of phone lines in order to appease everyone and soon the story and the messages were known everywhere.

Now after thirty years of silence, these recordings are available and can be heard by any interested party.

Thanks to Craig Miller, his sense of innovation and his generosity.

Luke Skywalker, at least say hello!

Leave a Comment