When I first started working at Lucasfilm 6 years ago, one of my responsibilities was to admin the Starwars.com forums. Because I was an admin, I could choose any Star Wars character (including obscure EU folks) I wanted as my avatar. I didn’t have to think about it long. I instantly chose Ackmena — the night-time bartender of the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine played by none other than Bea Arthur in The Star Wars Holiday Special.
I had always a nostaglic love for that Thanksgiving television special which aired in 1978. It wasn’t because of the Boba Fett cartoon, or the discovery that Chewbacca was married and had a kid named Lumpy. Nope. It was all because of Bea. She was strong, smart, witty, and didn’t take any guff from anyone, including the Empire.
Every character Bea Arthur played — whether it be the sassy bartender Ackmena, Maude Findlay (on Maude), or Dorothy Zbornak (on Golden Girls) — had this inner strength and sarcasm that made her cynical yet lovable. She was liberal without being self-righteous. She was a feminist before I ever knew what that meant. Best of all, she danced with Greedo and sang to that wretched hive of scum and villainy as she threw them out of the cantina.