According to Carrie Fisher, George Lucas gave her a copy of the special as a gift for recording the DVD commentary for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). She claimed that she played it at parties when she wanted her guests to leave.
George Lucas famously tried (and failed) to buy up all master copies to make sure it was never broadcast again.
The special has never been released on video, but bootleg videos have been circulating for years, and are now all over the internet. George Lucas remarked at an Australian convention that "if I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every bootlegged copy of that program and smash it."
Harrison Ford was particularly reluctant to appear in this special, but eventually was convinced.
Bea Arthur claimed she only appeared in this special because her youngest was a big fan of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
A scene featuring Darth Vader talking to an officer on the Death Star was actually cut footage from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). In that scene, Leslie Schofield, who portrayed Chief Bast (who died on the Death Star), appeared as an unidentified officer. An unused scene of stormtroopers searching Tatooine is also used.
Saun Dann was an early incarnation of Lando Calrissian. In early drafts of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), George Lucas describes him as a gambler who runs a general store on Kashyyyk, "a guy who trades with the Indians."
According to Producer Mitzie Welch, the sequence with Diahann Carroll was intended to be "soft-core porn that would pass the censors."
The Cantina sequence took an entire day to shoot. The actors in alien costumes began to pass out due to lack of oxygen. Oxygen tanks were provided for them to use between takes.
According to David Acomba, he recommended Robin Williams for the special, but the producers turned him down.
George Lucas came up with the idea of focusing on Chewbacca's family. Writer Bruce Vilanch objected, because the dialogue would all be in the Wookiee language, but Lucas refused to change it. According to Vilanch, Lucas originally intended for the story of Chewbacca's family to appear somewhere in the "Star Wars" saga.
The Life Day song Carrie Fisher sings is based on the theme from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Fisher demanded that she be allowed to sing in this special, but didn't like the song.
The Holiday Special is the first time that James Earl Jones was credited with performing the voice of Darth Vader. The next time would be during the end credits of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
An animated segment produced by Nelvana Studios, which later produced Star Wars: Droids (1985) and Ewoks (1985), includes Boba Fett's first appearance.
David Acomba was the original director, but he quit after a few days of shooting. He directed the musical numbers by Bea Arthur and Jefferson Starship. Acomba also commissioned the animated segment featuring Boba Fett.
Ben Burtt created Malla and Itchy's vocalizations from recordings of bears and lions at Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, Washington. For Lumpy's vocalizations, he used a recording of a baby bear at the San Diego Zoo.
WILLHELM SCREAM: When the stormtrooper Han tangles with stumbles and falls from the balcony of Chewbacca's treehouse.
Bruce Vilanch has admitted that he was using cocaine heavily while helping to write the special.
The large white rat suit in the Cantina scene was made for The Food of the Gods (1976).
There was talk of a possible spin-off television series, but it never got past that early stage.
40 years later, almost all of the surviving cast who appeared in this one-off show are still embarrassed by its existence, C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels said that George Lucas has been known to walk out of interviews when an interviewer starts to ask questions about this show, and has said that the show will never be made available again. In the 1990s, Lucas said that he believed the master tapes no longer existed, although that appears to be incorrect. Harrison Ford has said that he doesn't remember much about appearing in it, and has never seen it, so there's no point in asking him any questions. Mark Hamill has cleverly dodged most of the questions asked of him about it. Only the late Carrie Fisher talked about it publicly.
Contrary to some reports, Kenny Baker did not perform as R2-D2 in any part of this show. A remote control version was used instead.
The Wookiee planet is called Kazzook, one of the names George Lucas considered before it became known as Kashyyyk.
Malla (Chewbacca's wife), Lumpy (Chewbacca's son), and Itchy (Chewbacca's father) were nicknames of their actual names: Mallatobuck, Lumpawarrump, and Attichicuk respectively. The names of the members of Chewbacca's family were later incorporated into the canon of the Star Wars Extended Universe.
In 1978, the script for Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was still being written, and release was scheduled for summer 1980. According to Mark Hamill, George Lucas devised this one-off television special to keep the unexpected success of the original 1977 release fresh in fans' minds and keep the merchandise selling in shops, concerned that the Star Wars brand would quickly be forgotten. When Lucas watched the final production, he was horrified, and felt it could easily be seen as an attempt at a cheap cash-in. While he was too late to stop the broadcast in the US and Canada, he was able to prevent the show from being aired in most other territories where Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) had been a massive success.
Chewbacca's family appeared again in "Star Wars: The Wookiee Storybook," a children's book published by Random House in 1979.