By this point, most Star Wars fans are aware that The Empire Strikes Back was not the first time we were introduced to the ruthless bounty hunter Boba Fett. Fans typically peg his first appearance as the animated sequence in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. However, over two months before that special aired for the first and last time, Boba Fett made his first appearance during a 1978 parade in San Anselmo, California.
Boba Fett Debuted In A Parade
In many ways, the San Anselmo Country Fair Day and Parade was stranger than anything you might have seen onscreen in a galaxy far, far away. For one thing, it was about as authentic as you can get: George Lucas had characters like Darth Vader and Boba Fett marching in this parade, and they were sporting the same official costumes they would later be seen wearing in The Empire Strikes Back.
As for why the Star Wars head honcho would go to such lengths to make a tiny Marin County parade so special, Lucas felt extra motivated for the simple reason that he lived in San Anselmo.
No One Knew Who Boba Fett Was At This Point
Still, in retrospect, even major Star Wars movers and shakers like Dave Filoni are mystified by why Boba Fett was included in the parade. For context, the parade took place a full two years before the premiere of The Empire Strikes Back. It also took place two months before the premiere of the Holiday Special, meaning that even the most hardcore franchise fans had no idea who Boba Fett even was, much less why he was marching alongside Darth Vader, one of the most recognizable villains in cinematic history.
Not The Original Trilogy Actor
While the late, great Jeremy Bulloch would portray Boba Fett on the big screen, he wasn’t the man underneath the Mandalorian armor in this parade. Instead, that honor went to Duwayne Dunham, someone who had previously worn an all-white version of Boba Fett’s costume during a screen test. By all accounts, he was a real sport during the parade, signing autographs with only the name “Boba.”
The Boba Fett Hype
We have no way of knowing how well this small-town parade helped to generate interest in this mysterious new bounty hunter, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Star Wars would use unconventional methods to hype Boba Fett.
Most fans at the time never experienced this parade, and since it only aired once, fans (then and now) never experienced the Holiday Special. Therefore, excitement for the bounty hunter didn’t reach its full height until Star Wars toymaker Kenner made Boba Fett into an exclusive mail-away figure emphasizing that he wouldn’t otherwise be “available in any store.”
Boba Fett Resurrected
It’s now fair to say that the hype machine for Boba Fett never stopped working its magic (or perhaps The Force has always been with this morally murky Mando merc). After his ignominious death in Return of the Jedi, sheer fan demand brought him back for the Star Wars EU, and the character is now alive and well in the Disney era of the franchise. It seems Disney has realized the same thing about Boba Fett that the bounty hunter realized about Han Solo: he’s no good to them dead.