Today’s the day in 1977 that Star Wars first showed in movie theaters.
It wasn’t long before the movie became a phenomenon, and decades later, the movie franchise is an institution.
I’ve seen props and costumes from the Star Wars movies show up in museums!
Though a few of those items have had stranger afterlives, including an original model of the Death Star.
As every Star Wars fan knows, some of the most action-packed scenes include extremely detailed models of ships and trenches and a certain ominous spherical battle station.
The studio paid for a storage space at a facility in southern California called Dollar Moving and Storage – but after the movie was done, they stopped paying rent.
Which meant Dollar Moving and Storage stopped doing storage.
They had workers put the old items into dumpsters, and one of those workers, known as Doug W., saved a few items, including the Death Star model.
He later moved to Missouri, where he put the model on display at his mom’s antique shop.
Later, he sold it to a place called Star World, which also had it on display – at least until it shut down.
A Star Wars collector, Todd Franklin, had been trying to find the model after it left the antique shop – when he showed up at the old Star World offices, the Death Star, the scourge of the Star Wars galaxy, was sitting in the corner being used as a trash can.
Franklin thought, that’s no trash bin. It’s a space station!
He bought it right then and there, and while it’s changed hands since then, the model has been restored, preserved and even exhibited on occasion.
And in case you’re wondering why Lucasfilm didn’t try to find and buy back this iconic prop from a landmark movie?
Their records had incorrectly showed that the Death Star had been destroyed during production.
In 2015, the government of Ukraine decided it was time to do away with the country’s old statues installed by the Soviet Union.
In the city of Odessa, an artist decided rather than tear down an old statue of Vladimir Lenin, they should repurpose it.
And so, in the place of the first Communist leader of the USSR, Odessa had a statue of Darth Vader.
And no, the statue cannot be turned.
SAVING THE DEATH STAR: HOW THE ORIGINAL MODEL WAS LOST AND FOUND (StarWars.com via Archive.org)
Darth Vader Statue (Atlas Obscura)