She’s a Little Bit Rebel Senator, He’s a Little Bit Moisture Farmer

John Scalzi

Me: Hey, you wanna know what’s the weirdest thing in the world?

Krissy: (sighs) What’s the weirdest thing in the world?

Me: Why did you just sigh there?

Krissy: I didn’t sigh, I just exhaled heavily.

Me: That’s actually the definition of a sigh.

Krissy: You were telling me about the weirdest thing in the world.

Me: Okay, so, In 1977, the Donny and Marie Osmond show did a whole bit on Star Wars and Donny played Luke and Marie played Leia.

Krissy: Okay.

Me: They are brother and sister, and they were playing Luke and Leia, who were brother and sister, too, but no one knew that at the time. They were the first people in any media to accurately portray the relationship between Luke and Leia. They were totally ahead of the curve. Donny and Marie. Osmond.

Krissy: George Lucas probably knew.

Me: Did he, though? The whole thing about Luke and Leia being siblings didn’t come out until Return of the Jedi. It was kinda hinted in Empire but that Yoda utterance about there being another was really open ended. Look, I’m a writer. The whole idea that we have any idea how a whole trilogy is going to while we write the first installment is mostly bullshit. We’re all making it up as we go along. I think George Lucas was thinking about what the hell he was going to do with Luke and Leia in future movies, had no clue, then watched this episode of the Donny & Marie show and was all, like, “oh, siblings, that’s a really good idea,” and then tucked it away for later. Then, bam, Jedi, and suddenly they’re twins.

Krissy: You seriously think George Lucas got the “Luke and Leia are siblings” idea from Donny and Marie.

Me: All the evidence fits!

Krissy: And you think this is, in fact, the weirdest thing in the world.

Me: Can you think of anything weirder?

Krissy: Not off the top of my head.

Me: There you go.

Krissy: Are you saying this came off the top of your head?

Me: Well, no, I’ve been thinking about it for a while.

Krissy: How long?

Me: (checks watch) About 46 years.

Krissy: (sighs)

— JS

55 Comments on “She’s a Little Bit Rebel Senator, He’s a Little Bit Moisture Farmer”

  1. I want to know more about this watch, that you routinely check to determine the time in multi-year increments.

  2. I would also argue that George Lucas didn’t know he was going to make Luke and Leia brother and sister until Return of the Jedi, but I don’t know about Donnie and Marie being the example that led him to that idea.

    Because, well… no one told Alan Dean Foster that before he started writing Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (1978), did they?? For anyone who had read the book beforehand, that reveal at the end of Return of the Jedi sure was a surprise, but for a very different reason!

  3. Fun fact: in the Halloween franchise, John Carpenter said he got the idea to make Laurie and Michael siblings after a long night of writing, drinking beer, and watching Return of the Jedi.

    Both the Halloween and Star Wars franchises are good examples of why one shouldn’t retcon.

  4. @Linda Sohl

    The big question about SotME for me would be whether George Lucas had any involvement at all. I know that Alan Dean Foster ghost wrote the novelization of Star Wars, and I’m pretty sure that the book pretty much launched the Del Rey publishing imprint. Of course Del Ray was going to want more Star Wars and they already had the guy who wrote the first book under contract, so would they even need to have involved Lucas beyond making sure they had the rights?

  5. I’m more interested in finding out how the heck you turned up this extremely rare easter egg! Great find.

    And sorry if this isn’t PC, but I gotta admit, I somehow find Marie Osmond as Princess Leia kind of…hot! lol

  6. Remember, Krissy, you CHOSE to marry that man……………………..



  7. Leia being Luke’s sister wasn’t decided on until the production of Return of the Jedi.

    Plans changed a lot during the production of the OT (including it being a trilogy and not a longer serial). That Luke had a sister was decided prior to ESB but at that point it was going to be another character entirely who would enter the story after Luke’s part of it was finished.

    When the decision was made that Jedi would be the last movie due to impending burnout Lucas had to fill in the blank of the “other” Skywalker and didn’t have any other candidates.

  8. Hi John;
    For the record: the only instructions/information I was given prior to writing Splinter was that I should come up with a story that could be filmed on a low budget. That was it. I was then allowed to write whatever I wanted within the strictures delineated by the first film. Certainly nothing was even hinted about Luke & Leia being siblings. Or Vader being Luke’s father, for that matter.

  9. Has to have been closer to 40 years, really; the Osmond sketch is closer to 46 but there was no reason to think it had any significance until Jedi came out.

  10. Am I the only who loves that the OG Alan Dean Foster showed up on this comment thread just to add his timing details?

    Alan, thanks for the fantastic novelizations of so many properties over the years. Your book WAS my Star Wars until I finally got to see it on VHS (after I’d seen ESB in the theater.)

  11. This is a gem. I guess everything is still out there on the internet! Paul Lind was pretty special, too.

  12. My years of watching Hollywood Squares as a child served me well. I knew that was Paul Lynde before he ever turned around.

  13. My favorite Star Wars head cannon is in Star Wars (A New Hope, FINE, ugh), when Tarkin, Vader and the officers are meeting around the table, there’s an empty chair. The empty chair is for Director Krennec, architect of the Death Star, who died during Rogue One.

  14. I believe you. I totally believe you. This absolutely makes sense. Especially when you are playing in the cortex of George Lucas.

  15. Way to make someone feel OLD, John.

    Not only did I see “Star Wars(: A New Hope)” as a first run release in a big ol’ single movie theater with real butter on the popcorn, but “The Donny and Marie Show” was my daughter’s absolute favorite television program and she would not go quietly to bed until she’d been allowed to watch it.

    To be fair to her I should note that she was three and four years old, at the time.

    I’m sending her a link, this will make HER feel old, now. I’m pretty sure she’s never fessed up to this guilty secret to my grandson, either.

  16. Fun post and fun comments. I’m very impressed that ADF showed up to correct things. Thanks.

    Yes, Krissy is a saint. Maybe it’s easier when she knows she can kick John’s ass if she wants to. ;>)

  17. This reminds me that I’ve always suspected TNG got their Borg design from watching “Captain EO” (1986), the George Lucas-produced 3d Disneyland movie that re-used a lot of Star Wars assets. I even remember hearing someone on TNG production talking in a behind-the-scenes thing about how the borg were originally more insect-like in design, but for budget reasons they ended going with costumes that were already made. The borg first appeared in 1989.

    Could be wrong, but I’m hardly the first person to have had this thought.

  18. More proof Luke and Leia were not originally twins. In the Topps “Empire Strikes Back”
    Card #2 Star File Office Business (back of card)

    Subject: Luke Skywalker
    Classification: Human
    Height: 5’9”
    Age: 22

    Card #3 Star File Office Business (back of card)

    Subject: Princess Leia Organa
    Classification: Human
    Height: 5’0”
    Age: 20

  19. My eyes! My ears! I’ll get you for this! ;) I have to admit, I never thought I’d see something worse than the SW Holiday Special, but this did it. I mean, Tony the Tiger (Thurl Ravenscroft) doing the voice of Vader? Paul Lynde as a Grand Moff? I just hope Kris was properly “medicated” during the production ;)

  20. While Lucas may not have finally decided on Leia as the other Skywalker until RoTJ, I think he was mostly decided on that path during TESB. Setting Leia on a different romantic path combined with the cryptic “there is another” Yoda comment was sort of a dead giveaway even at the time.

  21. LOL, my thoughts exactly, Nelson!

    And I had never seen the Donny and Marie Star Wars sketch. It was, um, interesting to watch! 😁😂

  22. @ Devin Ganger No, you’re most definitely not.
    @Nelson Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    @Alan Dean Foster, thank you! I always wondered how that happened. So cool to hear about things like this directly from the folks who truly know.

  23. I mean, if Luke and Leia were already determined to be brother and sister, then Chewie’s grumblings during their snog at the beginning of Empire must’ve meant “So that‘s how they roll on Tattooine…”

  24. Another science fiction writer came up with the idea of Luke having a sister, namely Leigh Brackett, when writing the first draft of Empire Strikes Back, but it wasn’t later, until after Lucas decided Vader was Luke’s father, that Leia came into the frame as the sister. In Brackett’s script, her name was Nellith and her existence was revealed by the force ghost of “Master Skywalker”, summoned by Minch (who’s Yoda in all but name). A lot of the world-building for the original trilogy came from Brackett.

    There’s more about her script here:

  25. I don’t know if Donny & Marie gave Lucas the idea or not, but of one thing I’m absolutely certain: Vader wasn’t Luke’s father until well into the production of Empire. Nothing that Vader and the Emperor say to each other makes any sense if Vader is the same person as Luke’s father and knows it. When the revelation came at the end of the movie, my reaction at first run was “I don’t believe it” and I still don’t.

  26. Came to say that your wife is a saint, but the rest of the internet beat me to it 😃.

    Staying to squee ADF, OMG 🤯

  27. “that Yoda utterance about there being another was really open ended.”

    Actually, who ‘another’ was was easily determined by using Sherlock Holmes’ dictum –

    “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

    It clearly wasn’t a droid, Han, Lando or Chewie. Ergo…. The brother-sister connection was a surprise, tho’.

  28. Some novelists do plot their series far in advance. J K Rowling spent five years world-building and plotting the entire Harry Potter series. And of course, J R R Tolkien had intended LOTR to be published as a single novel. And his seemingly endless supply of postmortem prequels had all been written ahead of time.

  29. “Krissy: I didn’t sigh, I just exhaled heavily.”

    THIS, right here perfectly encapsulates a functional marriage of 20+ years!

    Also the whole:
    “Me: Can you think of anything weirder?
    Krissy: Not off the top of my head.”

    OBVIOUSLY what is weirder is this entire conversation existing in 2023 CE. Though I have serious reservations about this being an actual exchange due to the serious lack of “uh huh, okay” and eyeroll mentions.

  30. I’d read Splinter of the Mind’s Eye before I saw RotJ, and I was completely weirded out by that reveal.

    I just want to say, I commend Krissy’s masterful redirection at the “that IS the definiton of a sigh” moment to avoid acknowledgement of your point there and to prevent derailing from the original thread of your conversation. That is some grade A marriage-keeping.

  31. Tangentially related (in style and period if nothing else) The Great Luke Ski’s Greased Lightning….

  32. Me: Can you think of anything weirder?

    Krissy: Not off the top of my head.

    I’m detecting sarcasm here.

  33. Gary Kurtz, Lucas’ late partner in the production of “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” confirmed in interviews that the plotline of Luke and Leia being brother and sister was not the initial plan for the Star Wars trilogy (he claimed that the original story included a reference to a sister Luke had, who died before the time of “A New Hope”).
    On the other hand, I do remember artists and writers who worked on the Star Wars comics saying that they got clear guidelines against any kind of Luke/Leia romantic involvement; it was during the time that the original trilogy came out, though I’m not sure if it was before or after “The Empire Strikes Back” came out.

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