Ah, the 1970s: An era where Citizens' Band radios were at the height of their popularity. Although CBs were staples for truck drivers trying to identify speed traps and the cheapest places for fuel, people who didn’t regularly log thousands of miles on the road enjoyed fiddling around with them as well. Betty Ford liked to chat with people under the handle “First Mama,” and Mel Blanc used the nicknames “Bugs” and “Daffy” to talk to delighted children.
Another celebrity not immune to the charms of CBs: James Earl Jones. Knowing that truck drivers could get a little bored on the road, and perhaps looking for a little diversion on long road trips himself, Jones decided to have a little fun with his fellow travelers. He jumped on the CB and began chatting with truckers in the now-iconic Darth Vader voice.
“I used ‘Darth” as my handle,” he said at a lecture in 2001. “Driving through Kansas or somewhere, going across country.” Though you’d expect that the booming voice would really brighten up a long haul for a bored driver, Jones admits it didn’t always work out so well. “The truck drivers would really freak out—for them, it was Darth Vader. I had to stop doing that.”
By the way, Jones probably logged more time as Darth Vader on the CB than he did in the actual movie. His original Star Wars role took less than three hours to film, and he was paid just $7000 for it.