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Sunday, December 22, 2019

41 Years Ago, I Got A Call From George Lucas



Wow. 40 years in the wilderness. Kind of biblical, eh? Back in 1978, my invention (the Hagoth voice stress analyzer) made the front page of every major newspaper in the country. And I appeared on talk shows like ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and Tomorrow with Tom Snyder shows, The Mike Douglas Show, and The McNeil-Lehrer Show. One day, my wife said I got a call from George Lucas. I'd recently taken the kids out of school to see the first Star Wars movie, and excitedly called back. George's secretary said they were interested in getting one of my devices. I refused to sell it to them. After she gasped in astonishment, I explained that I'd be glad to give them one, and even fly to their offices and show them how to use it. We made a date.
I had a special unit made, anodized in Darth Vader black and showed up at the studio lot, where they ushered me to their offices. There, producer Gary Kurtz gratefully accepted my gift and, in return, gave me a Darth Vader helmet and five signed posters (one for me, and one for each of my four kids).
Later in 1978, I took the summer off and (with their permission) made a movie with my Boy Scouts titled Darth Vader in Exile. It's pretty hokey, as I wrote the script in about two hours and used old technology to make a 30-minute film. The rock groups Abba and The Bee Gees even let me use some of their music for the background. If you want to check it out, be my guest: Go to www.rickbennett.com/DarthVaderInExile.m4v. Forgive the cheesy flick, but this was a summer exploit with my scouts. And we got to use my prized Darth Vader helmet!
Boy, I wish I'd had FinalCutPro back then. My computer was a PDP-11/34 that took special air conditioning in my house, and sported 16 dial-in phone lines, a mag tape drive and two washing-machine-size disk drives with ten megabytes of storage. Hey, in 1978, that was a big deal!
Back then, I believed I could do anything. So I sold my company and ran for congress. And lost, only getting 47% of the vote from a heavily gerrymandered district in the state of Washington.
Why the nostalgia today? I'm going to see the latest Star Wars this weekend: The Rise of Skywalker! Which has gotten me reminiscing just a bit.
Wait until Earth Day. I'll reprise my previous LinkedIn article about adventures with Earth Day founder Frank Herbert, the science fiction author who wrote Dune. No, I don't live in the past. But I try to learn from it.