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Interview with Patty Maloney, "Lumpy"
By SKot Kirkwood - November 8, 2008
was the real star of The Star Wars Holiday Special? The answer
is clear when you think about it: Lumpy. It's really all about
a day in the life of Chewbacca's son. And the real star behind
Lumpy? None other than Patty Maloney, the 3' 11" actress
who had already been seen on television in a number of 70s TV
shows including the Sid & Marty Krofft production "Far
Out Space Nuts", where she played the character Honk.
As we look back at the original airing of the Holiday Special
so many years ago, it seemed only appropriate that we talk to
the real star of the show. And so we present... Patty Maloney!
Well, as you know it's the 30th anniversary of The Star Wars Holiday
Patty: I cannot believe that. I cannot believe it's been
SKot: I'll bet it was a lot of fun.
Patty: It was. It was a lot of hard work, but it was also
a lot of fun. It was great to be involved with all of the other
SKot: I can imagine. It sounds like everybody had a relatively
good time working on it, at least.
Patty: Yes, we did. And we got along wonderfully, and
we were all very pleased with the outcome of it, actually... I
was. I was very pleased with it.
SKot: Had you actually seen Star Wars before working on
Patty: Yes, I had seen... I think I had seen the first
one. But I didn't know the characters of Chewbacca's family, because
Star Wars didn't have Chewbacca's family in it. This was completely
different, you know.
SKot: Right. It was a new development.
SKot: What about getting the part? Can you tell about
what it was like getting the part and how that came about?
Patty: It was just a basic open call, an audition for
someone about my height to come and read, or come in and audition,
be interviewed for the part of Lumpy. I went in with a bunch of
other people, and... for some reason they just chose me. I have
no idea why! How that came about, it's just that that happens,
you go to an audition and all of a sudden there you are, you've
got the part, you know. Or you don't have the part.
SKot: You must have had the magic.
Patty: I guess so! It was something that I did that intrigued
them, I guess, that I could do Lumpy.
SKot: Did they tailor the suit just for you? Do you remember
when you first tried the suit on?
Yes. Once it was finally completed... it was made of all human
hair, which made it very, very warm... it was a very warm suit.
I remember I was doing something on The Towering Inferno, doing
a stunt on that, and I had to go over after shooting all day to
Stan Winston's for the face, because he did the head--he did the
make-up and the electronics in the head.
SKot: Sadly enough, Stan Winston passed away earlier this
Patty: I know! I felt so bad, I couldn't believe that!
I just had the best time with him on the set. He was a great person
to work with.
SKot: He talked about the Holiday Special later, and described
it as the springboard for his career, basically.
Patty: Yes, yes. And for the type of thing that he did
inside the head, because he did some mechanical work inside. And
that was probably one of the first times they used any kind of
mechanics inside the head, you know.
SKot: As I understand, the Chewbacca mask, which had already
been made for the movie, didn't have any kind of movement in it
Patty: No, it did not. Actually, Stan Winston is the one
that developed this movement. It was an interesting thing to work
with, because I could control the mouth moving up and down by
rings they wired from the head through my arms, and I put these
little rings on my fingers and I could move my fingers inside
the costume and make different looks... like a snarl, or a smile,
or different things like that. And the only thing that wasn't
covered were my eyes, so my eyes were open, it was like a mask
around my eyes.
SKot: I imagine that was difficult, working those cables
while you were moving around.
Patty: Yeah it was, and at times when we would do a real
close-up of Lumpy, Stan would get behind me and he would re-open
the back of the costume and pull on some of those strings, because
it was hard to pull on them. And so when we wanted a close-up,
he wanted it to be perfect, you know. And you couldn't see him
because he was kneeling down behind me, and they would just show
the face of Lumpy. And it worked very well, doing it that way.
SKot: Was the suit uncomfortable to wear with all the
cables in it?
Patty: No, it wasn't that uncomfortable, it was just extremely
warm, very very warm. There was hardly any place to really breathe
because the mouth needed to be closed a lot of the time... and
that was where I would get all of my air, through the mouth, because
the eyes were like... that mask was real tight against my eyes.
I remember a couple of times when I had to run up the steps of
the tree, up from the downstairs while being chased, and run up
the tree into my room... they had someone standing there that
would open the mouth for me and put a straw through so that I
could breathe and get some oxygen, some good clean oxygen! But
they were great, they were right with me the whole time, you know.
SKot: I've seen some pictures of them having to do that
with the cantina characters, with a straw in their mouth. Were
you present during the filming of the cantina material?
Patty: Yes, I was for some of it. The cantina scene went
all night long, it was a long, long time to shoot that scene.
It went from morning, all night, to the next morning.
SKot: Did you get to meet Bea Arthur?
Patty: No, I didn't really, because she was on-set most
of the time.
SKot: What was it like working with Art Carney?
Patty: It was great, he was wonderful... very cooperative,
fun to be around, never complained, we had lots of laughs and
stuff. He was great. He was really, really great. And of course
my favorite was Harrison Ford, because I got to be picked up by
Harrison Ford, you know. That was just wonderful, because I was
always a huge fan of him, and still am.
Do you remember eating the Wookiee-ookies, those cookies on the
Patty: Oh, Lumpy kept trying to steal them, and eat them,
and the mother would take them away from me, yeah.
SKot: Any idea what kind of cookies those were? It looked
like they were chocolate chip or something.
Patty: Oh my gosh, I have no idea. It probably was. I'm
sure it was. But it would be something that wouldn't come off
on the fur when I'd pick up the cookie. Because the chips in the
chocolate chips would melt, and they wouldn't want to get that
all over the paws, you know, the fur.
SKot: Do you recall filming any scenes that didn't make
it into the show?
Patty: Oooh, gosh, I can't really. No, I think basically
everything that we did was used, especially the things with the
family. There might have been some things that were done when
I wasn't on set that weren't used, but with the actual family
I can't think of anything that they left out.
SKot: Did George Lucas ever visit the set?
Patty: No, what they did was at the end of every day they
would send the film up for his approval, before they would say
that it was okay and they didn't have to shoot any more on that
scene. They would, I guess, fly it up there and he would look
at it. He may have come down on the set during the time that other
people were working, but not while I was on set.
SKot: I understand he was busy working on the sequel to
Star Wars, and basically turned it all over to CBS, so he didn't
really have time to supervise it or keep a close watch on it.
Patty: Yeah. But from what I understand, he did check
on the dailies everyday, they did show him all of the dailies.
SKot: Once the filming was done, did you get to keep any
props or items from the set?
Patty: Actually, in the kitchen they had these glass jars
for flour and sugar and things like that, and they told me I could
have anything in that kitchen I wanted, so I took those. And they
looked like big mushrooms with covers. I still have them.
SKot: Do you use them, put flour and sugar in them?
Patty: Yes, I do use them. Actually, the biggest one I
put candy in... and teabags, coffee, things like that.
SKot: I know Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) enjoyed the Holiday
Patty: The last time I saw him was at an autograph signing,
and I went up to him and I said "Do you remember me?"
and he said "Yes, you're my son!" He said, "You
know actually, Patty, when we do these signings you should be
with me, because you and I work together so closely, because you
were my son in the special... we should do tours together when
we do the signings!" Because I had some pictures of Lumpy
that I was autographing. Star Wars has a huge, huge fan base.
They loved getting a picture of Lumpy, because that was very rare,
SKot: Have you done any appearances in support of your
Patty: No, I haven't... the only thing I did was the autograph
signing. And of course I wasn't in costume, I just had some pictures,
because they wanted pictures of different things that I had done.
So I included some pictures of just Lumpy.
SKot: Would you be interested in doing convention appearances
or anything like that?
Patty: Yeah, you know when Peter does them he's not in
costume, he doesn't go there as Chewie. Yes, it would depend on
what the situation was. I don't think the costume is around anymore.
I think the head may still be around, I think it's in the Lucasfilm
archives... but the rest of the costume I have no idea where that
Patty: Yeah, I have no idea either. I know that Stan [Winston]
didn't make the costume itself; he just made the head.
SKot: There was talk about a spinoff TV series for the
Holiday Special early on... did you ever hear anything about that?
Patty: Vaguely... I heard that they were thinking about
doing that. But I have no idea why it didn't come about. I did
hear that they were talking about that, but then it never progressed.
I don't know any of the details on that.
SKot: Did you ever consider working in any other Star
Patty: No, I never was approached to do any of them. Basically
on the other Star Wars [projects], when they used the little people,
they were basically all background. And I didn't do background
stuff at the time.
SKot: Have you kept in touch with anybody else from the
Patty: No, I haven't... I was in touch with Stan several
times, but not anymore unfortunately. No, I really didn't... in
fact I lost touch with a lot of the people.
SKot: I imagine you get fan mail about the Holiday Special,
people writing in asking for autographs and things like that?
Patty: Yes, I do, occasionally I get fan mail on it, yeah.
I do send out autographs... everything goes through the union,
or through my manager, and he'll forward everything to me and
then I do send pictures and sign autographs for anything I've
SKot: Would you like to see the Holiday Special come out
Patty: I would, I would love to see it come out. I think
it was like one of the classic things, even though it wasn't as
popular in the ratings, but I thought it was something unique
and I would love to see it come back.
SKot: I think there are a lot of people who would love
to see it come out. Even if it's not the best thing related to
Star Wars, it's still fun...
Patty: Yeah, and it was a different feel because of having
it be the family instead of all of the other things, with the
fighting and all that stuff. I loved the way it was written, I
thought it was very compassionate, and the response between the
family and everyone else from Star Wars was great.
SKot: Looking back now on the 30th anniversary of the
show's airing, what kind of thoughts do you have about working
Patty: Just that I was thrilled that I got to do it, number
one. I loved doing it, I had a fabulous time, we worked very hard.
Smith-Hemion were wonderful to everyone, they were just great.
And I loved Steve Binder, the director... I just loved working
with him. What a brilliant man, so kind and so gentle; a great,
great director. He made everything so pleasant for me.
SKot: Sadly, Dwight Hemion also passed away this year...
Patty: I know, I know, I felt so bad. They were so wonderful,
they were just great. Just great to work with.
SKot: Are you still active in show business now?
Patty: Yeah, I still am, actually... I moved to Florida
because I had been in Los Angeles for 35 years and I thought it
was time to make a move, and I was raised here. And it was nice
to come home. But I still, yes, I could go back out... in this
day and age you can go anywhere and work from anyplace. A lot
of people are leaving Los Angeles and live in other parts of the
country and still work, you know. So yeah, I still am. I'm still
raring to go if anyone wants me!