May the 4th Be With You: Lebanon Valley is closer to the Star Wars Universe than you may have realized

3 min read381 views and 103 shares Posted May 3, 2019

Pick any date on the calendar and what you’ll find is myriad holidays and observances; some legitimate, others completely made up.

May 4 for example is Rhode Island Independence Day, Beer Pong Day, and National Explosive Ordnance Disposal Day.

It’s also Star Wars Day.

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Why? Despite a common misconception, it’s not because that was the date in 1977 when the original Star Wars made its debut in theaters around the world; that’s three weeks from now, on May 25.

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It’s because “May the Fourth” sounds somewhat like “May the Force,” as in “May the Force be with you,” the iconic saying from the films.

But, whatever the reasoning is behind it, May 4 is a day to celebrate one of the most enduring film franchises in history.

Whether you plan on celebrating by re-watching the entire saga from the prequels to the sequels, or simply throwing on a Boba Fett t-shirt and calling it a day, it’s worth noting that the Lebanon Valley has some connections to a galaxy far, far away.

Artist Matt Busch

Artist Matt Busch (left) with unidentified wookie.

Matt Busch is an artist, writer, and filmmaker whose credits include numerous projects under the Star Wars banner.

His first project was illustrating a short story for Star Wars Adventure Journal. From then on he worked on illustrating books, role-playing game materials, trading card games and was a contributing writer for the book Star Wars: Heroes And Rogues.

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Busch was born in Lebanon, however, his family eventually relocated to Michigan, where he still resides.

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He continues to do Star Wars related work and production us underway for his own sci-fi film, titled Aladdin 3477, which he is writing and directing.

Director Randal Kleiser

Director Randal Kleiser

Kleiser is perhaps best know for having directed 1978’s Grease. He was also born in Lebanon County back in 1946 before later moving to Philadelphia.

Upon graduating from Radnor High School in 1964, Kleiser had his sights set on becoming a filmmaker and in the early-seventies attended the University of Southern California to study film, where his roommate was another young filmmaker by the name of George Lucas. The two would work on each other’s films while in school.

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Kleiser’s thesis project for his masters degree was a film called PeeGe which told the story of a family’s experiences visiting their grandmother in a nursing home. In 1977, Kleiser directed a sequel to Peege called Portrait of Grandpa Doc. The half-hour short film was a part of ABC’s Weekend Specials program, and was based on Kleiser’s grandfather, the late Dr. Horace Means, who had lived in Lebanon.

According to a 1995 Lebanon Daily News article, Kleiser was also in attendance at the opening of The Allen Theatre in Annville.

George Lucas and the Bomberger Family

Star Wars creator George Lucas

George Lucas was Randal Kleiser’s roommate, but obviously became pretty successful in his own right.

Lucas would of course go on to direct American Graffitti, THX 1138, and write Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

…Oh, yeah. He created Star Wars, too.

He also has some familial connections to the Lebanon Valley of his own.

Lucas’s great-grandfather was J.S. Bomberger, a well known figure locally in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

Pat Rhen, a member of the Lebanon Historical Society, was able to use research previously conducted by journalist Henry Homan to trace the Bomberger family lineage out to California.

Lucas’ maternal grandfather, Paul S. Bomberger moved from Palmyra to Modesto in 1911. Bomberger’s daughter, Dorothy Bomberger, married George Lucas, Sr., in Modesto, California back in 1933. According to Lucas biographer John Baxter, Paul and his brother Amos would loan George Sr. the money he needed to build the single story house where 75 years ago, on Mother’s Day, a newborn George Walton Jr was brought home on May 14, 1944.

The rest, as they say, is history.

You can read Paul S. Bomberger’s obituary here on Newspapers.com.

Special thanks to Pat Rhen, who clued us into the many connections between Star Wars and Lebanon County.

Editor’s Note: A member notified us that the name of Randal Kleiser’s Master’s thesis film was “Peege,” not “Peegee.” The article has since been corrected.

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