8 Star Wars Questions We Still Need Answered

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The Star Wars franchise has given birth to one of the most passionate and knowledgeable fan bases in all of pop culture. Each installment has been scoured by fans for decades in order to answer every question that George Lucas’s seminal space opera posed. But as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars, there are still a few mysteries about the saga that have no definitive answers. Here are eight Star Wars questions we still need answered.

1. WHY DOESN'T ANYONE RECOGNIZE R2-D2 AND C-3PO?

Nineteen years are supposed to have passed between the end of the Star Wars prequels and the start of the original trilogy, so you should forgive Obi-Wan for being fuzzy on the details of a few of his younger exploits. But how can he not remember R2-D2 and C-3PO when they show up in 1977's A New Hope? Obi-Wan fought countless battles with the two droids by his side, with R2 swooping in to save his life on a number of occasions. And don't forget that C-3PO was Obi-Wan's ride home after the Jedi Master turned Anakin Skywalker into a quadruple amputee (and subsequently doomed the galaxy for two decades) at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Surely you'd remember a thing like that.

So it’s a bit strange that when he first encounters the droids in Episode IV, ol’ Obi-Wan specifically says, “I don't seem to remember ever owning a droid,” before listening to Princess Leia’s message about the Death Star plans. Either Obi-Wan is lying (which he does pretty often), is being way too literal (he never actually owned R2 or C-3PO), or simply forgot about the previous three decades of his life.

Almost as bad as Kenobi’s memory is Uncle Owen’s. In the prequels, a young Uncle Owen lives with C-3PO for years on the farm on Tatooine, as we see when Anakin and Padme stop by in Attack of the Clones (2002). Yet when the two droids wind up at his front door, he doesn’t offer up so much as a nod of recognition. Even for emotionless droids, that’s got to hurt.

2. DOES OBI-WAN FORGET THAT LEIA IS A SKYWALKER?

On the subject of Obi-Wan’s suspect memory, he also seems to completely forget that Leia is the daughter of Anakin Skywalker during The Empire Strikes Back (1980). When Luke leaves his Jedi training early to save Han and Leia from Darth Vader, Obi-Wan tells Yoda that Luke is “our last hope.” Yoda then famously reveals that, “No, there is another.”

It’s a great line, but there’s one problem with it: Obi-Wan knows that there is another Skywalker around that could defeat Vader; he literally helped deliver Leia as a baby. So he’s either forgotten about another major event from the prequels, or he doesn’t even entertain the thought of Leia being able to save the galaxy. The most likely explanation? George Lucas was just making this stuff up as he went along.

3. WHY DOESN’T DARTH VADER SENSE ANYTHING ABOUT LEIA?

The Force is a powerful weapon, and throughout the saga, Darth Vader showed that he could use it to sense things about people that others couldn’t. He sensed Obi-Wan’s presence aboard the Death Star, he got into Luke’s head during their duel in Return of the Jedi, and he could seemingly see his loved ones' futures throughout the prequels. Yet he couldn’t feel something—anything—about Leia having the Skywalker blood when they first met in the opening moments of A New Hope.

It’s not entirely clear when it was decided that Leia would be a Skywalker, so it could be assumed that this was never part of the plan in 1977. But in the 40 years since, no one has been able to offer up an official reason—no matter how contrived—to explain away this question.

4. WHY DO SOME JEDI DISAPPEAR AFTER THEY DIE?

When Obi-Wan and Yoda die in the original trilogy, their bodies cease to be, disappearing and becoming one with the Force. It’s a noble end to two of the most important characters in the franchise, and it also set a precedent at the time that all Jedi disappear when they die. Well, the good guys at least, since Darth Vader’s body doesn’t disappear after his death in Return of the Jedi (though fan opinions differ on whether or not his physical body vanishes before his funeral pyre).

Yet in the prequels, none of the Jedi disappear when they die, most notably Qui-Gon Jinn. It’s later revealed that Jinn is the one who teaches Yoda how to communicate with the living from beyond the grave. Despite his body never vanishing, Jinn still winds up as a ghost in The Clone Wars animated series, and his spectral voice is even heard in Episode II when Anakin goes on his murderous rampage of the Sand People. So what made Obi-Wan and Yoda’s deaths so special? What did they learn while in seclusion that allowed them to vanish? With the next Star Wars movie being called The Last Jedi, it looks like time is running out on an answer.

5. WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH ANAKIN’S FATHER?

In The Phantom Menace (1999), Shmi Skywalker—Anakin’s mother—gave Qui-Gon the eye-rolling explanation that Anakin has no father and was the product of a miraculous birth. The mystery surrounding Anakin’s parentage gets more interesting in Revenge of the Sith, when Chancellor Palpatine tells Anakin of his mentor, Darth Plagueis.

According to Palpatine, Plagueis was a Sith Lord so powerful that he could use the Force to manipulate the Midi-chlorians (think weird cells that give Jedi super powers) in a person’s body to create life. It’s never explicitly said that this is how Anakin came to be, but the theory is a popular one among fans. Even if it’s true, there’s the bigger question of whether it was Plagueis himself, or his pupil, Palpatine, that created Anakin.

6. SO WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED TO THOSE BOTHANS?

Mon Mothma doesn't get a whole lot to say throughout the movies, but her most famous line is also the most cryptic of the entire saga. When detailing the stolen plans of the new Death Star in Return of the Jedi, Mothma’s face suddenly drifts into an expressionless mask as she chillingly says, “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”

Whatever happened to the Bothans, it couldn’t have been good. Though they never even appear on screen during the movies, the best we can tell is that they look like pint-sized wolves and are apparently big-time movers and shakers in the world of intergalactic politics. We’ve already seen one Death Star get its plans stolen on film, but the plight of the ill-fated Bothans might be worth its own movie just to explain Mothma’s thousand-yard stare.

7. HOW THE DID SECOND DEATH STAR GET BUILT SO QUICKLY?

In the closing moments of Revenge of the Sith, we see the very basic skeletal structure of the first Death Star being constructed. Nineteen years later, the thing is cruising around the galaxy and turning entire planets into dust. After the first Death Star is destroyed, the Empire has another one—even bigger than the original—almost fully operational in the four years between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi.

So how did the second Death Star go up so quickly? If you head over to Reddit, you can read a lot of theories about improved technology and shortened research and development time. But seeing as though we’ll never get a movie revolving around the galactic construction union contracted to work for the Empire, it’s best to just accept the Death Star as is. It’s not like it lasts long anyway.

8. WHERE DID THE EWOKS GET LEIA’S DRESS?

Isn’t it a little bit odd that the Ewoks had a dress for Princess Leia just lying around in Jedi? Watch it again—it’s a really nicely tailored dress that fits Leia perfectly. This is one of those small details that probably didn’t capture many fans’ attention at the time, but once you realize how strange it is, it’ll be hard to watch the movie the same way again.

There’s really no logical reason for a race of warrior teddy bears to be in the business of sewing together people clothes just in case they have company. But this is Star Wars after all, so fans already have plenty of theories. The most popular? The Ewoks eat humans, and the dress is something left over from a recent meal. Terrifying, but completely reasonable.

We already know that the little critters were fixing to cook Chewbacca, Han, and Luke when they first captured them, so we can assume they’ve eaten people before. And since the dress was put on Leia so quickly, we can also assume that it wasn’t just made on the fly from spare fabric. Therefore, it must have belonged to someone else at some point, and that someone else might have met her end at an Ewok barbecue. And with no official explanation coming in the foreseeable future, this is all we have to go on.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi

Mabel Livingstone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Mabel Livingstone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On October 20, 1882, one of the world's most gifted performers was born. In his heyday, Bela Lugosi was hailed as the undisputed king of horror. Today, more than 85 years after he first donned a vampire’s cape, Lugosi's take on Count Dracula is still widely hailed as the definitive portrayal of the legendary fiend. But who was the man behind the monster?

1. Bela Lugosi worked with the National Theater of Hungary.

To the chagrin of his biographers, the details concerning Bela Lugosi’s youth have been clouded in mystery. (In a 1929 interview, he straight-up admitted “for purposes of simplification, I have always thought it better to tell [lies] about the early years of my life.”) That said, we do know that he was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20, 1882 in Lugoj, Hungary (now part of Romania). We also know that his professional stage debut came at some point in either 1901 or 1902. By 1903, Lugosi had begun to find steady work with traveling theater companies, through which he took part in operas, operettas, and stage plays. In 1913, Lugosi caught a major break when the most prestigious performing arts venue in his native country—the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary—cast him in no less than 34 shows. Most of the characters that he played there were small Shakespearean roles such as Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III.

2. Bela Lugosi fought in World War I.

SALY NOÉMI, Fortepan // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The so-called war to end all wars put Lugosi’s dramatic aspirations on hold. Although being a member of the National Theater exempted him from military service, he voluntarily enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. Over the next year and a half, he fought against Russian forces as a lieutenant with the 43rd Royal Hungarian Infantry. While serving in the Carpathian mountains, Lugosi was wounded on three separate occasions. Upon healing from his injuries, he left the armed forces in 1916 and gratefully resumed his work with the National Theater.

3. When Bela Lugosi made his Broadway debut in 1922, he barely knew any English.

In December 1920, Lugosi boarded a cargo boat and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, audiences on the Great White Way got their first look at this charismatic stage veteran. Lugosi was cast as Fernando—a suave, Latin lover—in the 1922 Broadway stage play The Red Poppy. At the time, his grasp of the English language was practically nonexistent. Undaunted, Lugosi went over all of his lines with a tutor. Although he couldn’t comprehend their meaning, the actor managed to memorize and phonetically reproduce every single syllable that he was supposed to deliver on stage.

4. Universal didn't want to cast Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula.

The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.

5. Most of Bela Lugosi's Dracula-related fan mail came from women.

Universal Pictures via Heritage Auctions, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

The recent Twilight phenomenon is not without historical precedent. Lugosi estimated that, while he was playing the Count on Broadway, more than 97 percent of the fan letters he received were penned by female admirers. A 1932 Universal press book quotes him as saying, “When I was on the stage in Dracula, my audiences were composed mostly of women.” Moreover, Lugosi contended that most of the men who’d attended his show had merely been dragged there by female companions.

6. Bela Lugosi turned down the role of Frankenstein's monster.

Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year's biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.

7. Bela Lugosi's relationship with Boris Karloff was much more cordial than it's usually made out to be.

It’s often reported that the two horror icons were embittered rivals. In reality, however, Karloff and Lugosi seemed to have harbored some mutual respect—and perhaps even affection for one another. The dynamic duo co-starred in five films together, the first of which was 1934’s The Black Cat; Karloff claimed that, on set, Lugosi was “Suspicious of tricks, fearful of what he regarded as scene stealing. Later on, when he realized I didn’t go in for such nonsense, we became friends.” During one of their later collaborations, Lugosi told the press “we laughed over my sad mistake and his good fortune as Frankenstein is concerned.”

That being said, Lugosi probably didn’t appreciate the fact that in every single film which featured both actors, Karloff got top billing. Also, he once privately remarked, “If it hadn’t been for Boris Karloff, I could have had a corner on the horror market.”

8. Bela Lugosi was a major soccer fan.

In 1935, Lugosi was named Honorary President of the Los Angeles Soccer League. An avid fan, he was regularly seen at Loyola Stadium, where he’d occasionally kick off the first ball during games held there. Also, on top of donating funds to certain Hungarian teams, Lugosi helped finance the Los Angeles Magyar soccer club. When the team won a state championship in 1935, one newspaper wrote that the players were “headed back to Dracula’s castle with the state cup.” [PDF]

9. Bela Lugosi was a hardcore stamp collector.

Lugosi's fourth wife, Lillian Arch, claimed that Lugosi maintained a collection of more than 150,000 stamps. Once, on a 1944 trip to Boston, he told the press that he intended to visit all 18 of the city's resident philately dealers. “Stamp collecting,” Lugosi declared, “is a hobby which may cost you as much as 10 percent of your investment. You can always sell your stamps with not more than a 10 percent loss. Sometimes, you can even make money.” Fittingly enough, the image of Lugosi’s iconic Dracula appeared on a commemorative stamp issued by the post office in 1997.

10. Bela Lugosi almost didn't appear in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein ... because the studio thought he was dead!

The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.

11. A chiropractor filled in for Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Toward the end of his life, Lugosi worked on three ultra-low-budget science fiction pictures with Ed Wood, a man who’s been posthumously embraced as the worst director of all time. In the 1953 transvestite picture Glen or Glenda?, Lugosi plays a cryptic narrator who offers such random and unsolicited bits of advice as “Beware of the big, green dragon who sits on your doorstep.” Then came 1955’s Bride of the Monster, in which Lugosi played a mad scientist who ends up doing battle with a (suspiciously limp) giant octopus.

Before long, Wood had cooked up around half a dozen concepts for new films, all starring Lugosi. At some point in the spring of 1956, the director shot some quick footage of the actor wandering around a suburban neighborhood, clad in a baggy cloak. This proved to be the last time that the star would ever appear on film. Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956; he was 73 years old.

Three years after Lugosi's passing, this footage was spliced into a cult classic that Wood came to regard as his “pride and joy.” Plan 9 From Outer Space tells the twisted tale of extraterrestrial environmentalists who turn newly-deceased human beings into murderous zombies. Since Lugosi could obviously no longer play his character, Wood hired a stand-in for some additional scenes. Unfortunately, the man who was given this job—California chiropractor Tom Mason—was several inches taller than Lugosi. In an attempt to hide the height difference, Wood instructed Mason to constantly hunch over. Also, Mason always kept his face hidden behind a cloak.

12. Bela Lugosi was buried in his Dracula cape.

Although Lugosi resented the years of typecasting that followed his breakout performance in Dracula, he asked to be laid to rest wearing the Count’s signature garment. Lugosi was buried under a simple tombstone at California's Holy Cross Cemetery.

This story has been updated for 2020.