Tag Archives: George Lucas

Music: Wolfman Jack

His voice was known throughout America due to his work at a Mexican border station that broadcast in 250,000 watts. Uploaded by blog.hummingburger.com.

Robert Smith. Let’s face it, if you’re Robert Smith and you want a career in radio, you’re going to change your name. You’re going to try “Daddy Jules,” in Newport News. You’ll see how “Big Smith” sounds in Shreveport. But you hear the legendary Alan Freed calling himself “Moon Dog,” and you like the singer Howlin’ Wolf, and one day it comes to you – “Wolfman Jack.”

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The Wolfman became a cult figure as a DJ on border stations in Mexico that broadcast in 250,000 watts – five times the legal limit in the U.S. The Wolfman’s trademark gravelly voice and howls could be heard all across the country. And because he wasn’t doing Saturday appearances at the local car dealership, his very absence helped create a shadowy presence – a disembodied voice of a man whom everyone knew, but seldom saw.

As his fame grew, Wolfman Jack became the voice (and sometime host) of the long-running Midnight Special music show. While his radio show was syndicated nationwide, he had his biggest moment playing himself in George Lucas’s wonderful American Graffiti. And appropriately, he’s in the National Radio and Broadcasting Halls of Fame. Here’s a great memory – the song “Clap for the Wolfman” as recorded by the Guess Who:


Actor: Harrison Ford

He's Han Solo. He's Indiana Jones. He's Jack Ryan. Most actors would give anything to have had just one of those franchises. Uploaded by mailer.fsu.edu.

Hollywood stars come in two varieties: Those who are propelled by their acting talent, and those who connect with audiences due to their larger-than-life personas. Some people combine the two (Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, e.g.). Harrison Ford can act, but it’s his strong, solid, accessible persona that has made him a Great American Thing.

After a half dozen years of making the rounds doing parts in TV shows and small movies, Ford got his big break in 1977 with the part of Han Solo in the original Star Wars (now fatuously titled Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope) (Great American Things, January 18, 2010). That opportunity came because director George Lucas remembered Ford’s small part in his mini-masterpiece, American Graffiti.

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Following the first two films in the Star Wars trilogy, Ford made a huge statement about his status as what Hollywood used to call a “leading man” in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). He was entirely believable as Indiana Jones, and if there had been any question about his durability on the “A list,” that role completely dispelled it.

In addition to these movies, some of the other hits Ford has starred in include Witness (1985), Working Girl (1988), Presumed Innocent (1990), Patriot Games (1992), The Fugitive (1993), and Air Force One (1997).

Although he’s received only one Academy Award nomination (for Witness), Ford received the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 2000. Oh, and his jacket and fedora from the Indiana Jones movies is in the Smithsonian…

Film: Star Wars

Star Wars was shot on a budget of $11 million. It earned $797 million for 20th Century Fox. I'd say that's a fairly good return. Uploaded by blogs.e-rockford.com.

Director George Lucas had an idea in mind for what he called The Star Wars, a modern space opera like the Flash Gordon films of his youth. About the time he finished his first movie, THX 1138, he began working on storylines. The first movie produced was Star Wars (which later got retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), filmed on a budget of $11 million. It earned $797 million worldwide, so I guess you could consider it, you know, a moderate success.

United Artists and Universal both passed on Star Wars, and one can only wonder whether the heads of those two studios survived when their boards found out. 20th Century Fox made the picture, and reaped the rewards not only of the three original blockbusters, but much of the licensing that became so incredibly profitable.

Lucas created Industrial Light & Magic to produce the special effects, after learning how weak were Fox’s capabilities. What seemed so futuristic then seems so primitive now, and Lucas recreated some of the effects for theater re-release and the DVD.

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America (and the world) was fascinated by the characters, the special effects, and the story. Han Solo, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, R2-D2, C3PO and Chewbacca all became film icons. “May the force be with you” was an ubiquitous catchphrase.

It dethroned Jaws as the highest-grossing film, before being bumped by E.T. Star Wars won six Academy Awards, all in the technical categories. But its influence on popular culture rivals that of any movie ever made. I mean, this was Star Wars.