Monday, November 16, 2015

Life Day! Ackmena's Cantina

CBS tried the best it could to recreate the lavish sets used in Star Wars for its holiday special, despite not having access to any of the original sets or designs. Since the network had planned to make its special a variety show, it only made sense to try replicating the Mos Eisley Cantina which would allow for a musical number. Enter Ackmena, a woman played by famed actress Beatrice Arthur.

Ackmena runs a cantina in Mos Eisley (though not the same one from the film). During the sequence in the special, a pervy alien (one of many perverts in this special) named Krelman tries to seduce Ackmena and she repels his advances. After performing a song and trying to oust the degenerates populating her bar, Ackmena wraps things up.

Ackmena was a character created specifically for the special. Beatrice Arthur was not familiar with the Star Wars movies, but she was a friend of the gentlemen who wrote the song for this sequence, so she agreed to film this scene. She knew that this was for a variety special on CBS, but didn't know much else. The sequences were all filmed separately, so other than Harvey Korman, Ms. Arthur didn't interact with any of the special's other stars. While the overall special wasn't well received, the cantina sequence was often held up as one of the best parts of the special. Of course, whether the kids watching the special enjoyed the sequence is a matter of debate. Regardless, Ackmena remains one of the more popular lesser known characters in the Star Wars world.