‘Star Wars’ flashback: Sir Alec Guinness and friends at Tavern on the Green, 1987

Oct. 24, 2008 | 9:50 p.m.



Here’s another fanboy treasure from the stacks of the Los Angeles Times photo archives: Henry Grossman of the Associated Press took this photo of the incomparable Sir Alec Guinness in April 1987, the same month the Oscar winner turned 73.

Guinness is joined at his table at Tavern on the Green in New York by the beaming Skywalker brood, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill (that was a big year for Fisher, by the way, with the publication of her novel "Postcards from the Edge"). As the smiles and formal wear suggests, it was a festive occassion — later that night, Guinness was honored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center at its 16th Annual Tribute to Film Achievement.

Star_wars_1977 Guinness, of course, was the only actor to earn an Oscar nomination for a "Star Wars" film and one of the few early believers in the commerical viability of the George Lucas epic, which is why he negoitiated a deal to get 2% percent of the gross in lieu of a set salary. He never was comfortable, however, with the relentless fan fixation on his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi, especially with it overshadowing a long, brilliant career in films such as "The Bridge On the River Kwai," "Dr. Zhivago," "Our Man in Havana," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Horse’s Mouth," which also earned him an Oscar nomination for writing the screenplay.

A man of sophistication and an actor of nuance, Guinness reportedly groaned when he read the stilted scripts that Lucas handed him for this strange new kind of space opera. Late in life, he told one interviewer that the death of Kenobi in "Star Wars" was a manuever to escape all the Jedi nuttiness. "I just couldn’t go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines," he said in 1999. "I’d had enough of the mumbo jumbo." Guinness died in 2000 still receiving "Star Wars" fan mail, most of which he reportedly threw away without opening. 

— Geoff Boucher


Nimoy_kelly_and_shatner_tape_star_tThe stars of "Star Trek" at work on the animated series in 1973

Bob_holiday_as_superman_on_broadwaySuperman on stage on Broadway in 1966

1968 star trek demonstration 2 Star Wars flashback: Sir Alec Guinness and friends at Tavern on the Green, 1987"Star Trek" fans protest NBC plans to cancel the show in 1968

Leonard_nimoy_1952 Leonard Nimoy at age 20 in 1952, ready to live long and prosper


Credit: "Star Wars" photograph courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

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5 Responses to ‘Star Wars’ flashback: Sir Alec Guinness and friends at Tavern on the Green, 1987

  1. Dan says:

    Come on, we had color film in 1987. Sheesh.

  2. Geoff Boucher says:

    Dan, most newspaper photos published in the mid-1980s were black and white, especially inside photos. A lot of stuff was not shot in color. The photos I'm digging through in the archive are predominantly B&W

  3. pasnat54 says:

    Let's not forget that Alec Guiness did some of his best work in The Ealing Studio comedies, including The Man in the White Suit, The Lavender Hill Mob and the LadyKillers (ignore the lame remake starring Tom Hankes). And in Kind Hearts and Coronets, Guiness played eight different characters, members of a titled family doomed to be picked off one by one by an aspiring claimant to the title.
    Black and white? Don't worry about it.

  4. Sandeep says:

    Alec Guinness, the incomparable truly, one of my most favorite of all times. His work in The Mudlark, Little Dorrit, those Ealing Comedies, …..Kwai, …Arabia and in other films is unforgettable.. He was an equally gifted writer… and oozed a charm and grace rarely seen since… Its been more than a decade since he departed… but to the real film and theatre lovers (lucky those who've seen him on stage) he will always be alive…

  5. John says:

    Sir Smart Alec is just another jealous smug Limey who thinks Americans are backwards and beneath him!

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