We’ll Miss You, Gormaanda

Bonnie Burton | May 30, 2008


(Harvey Korman as Chef Gormaanda)

When I think back on some of the first movies I saw with my dad, or hours spent at home as a latch-key kid watching comedy skit TV shows, it’s full of memories involving comedic actor Harvey Korman. I remember giggling at his klutzy Hedley Lamarr character in the movie Blazing Saddles. I recall my afterschool ritual of getting comfy on the living room couch, with Little Debbie oatmeal pies in hand, and snort-laughing at Korman’s crazy antics on “The Carol Burnett Show.”

I can still remember being on the edge of my seat in the movie theater watching Korman as Captain Blythe in Herbie Goes Bananas. Heck, I even liked him during my full-blown Goth days when he played Dr. Jack Seward in Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

So it really shouldn’t be a surprise when years later, I was brave enough to admit in a crowded Lucasfilm marketing meeting that I was a big fan of the “Star Wars Holiday Special.”

I justified my adoration of the hardly-seen TV show by saying that, in addition to Bea Arthur as the Cantina barkeep Ackmena, it was Korman’s three bizarre characters that made me want to watch the cult classic over and over again. Korman portrayed the Ackmena-smitten Cantina patron Krelman, the multi-armed Julia Child-in-outer-space Chef Gormaanda, and an Amorphian instructor that practically drives Chewie’s son Lumpy to tears.

I was devastated to hear of his passing this week. Not only did an iconic comedian leave our galaxy, but sadly I’ll never get the chance to interview him about those roles he played in “The Star Wars Holiday Special.” I had so many questions for him!

How much of the characters’ dialog and actions were written down in the script and how much did he improvise?

What was running through his mind as her poured drinks into his head sitting at the Cantina bar as he tried to woo Bea Arthur’s Ackmena?

Did he think that Krelman ever hooked up with Ackmena?

Was he a big Star Wars fan, or was this one of those weird gigs he couldn’t pass up just on mere curiosity alone?

I suppose I’ll just have to be content watching my old beat-up VHS copy of “The Star Wars Holiday Special” knowing that Korman must have had a blast cooking with four arms as he screamed “Stir, whip, stir, whip, beat, beat, stir!”

We’ll Miss You, Gormaanda!

VIDEO: Gormaanda in “The Star Wars Holiday Special”

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