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Friday, February 10, 2006

Phil Brown passes

It's being reported at this hour that Phil Brown, who had a storied and colorful career but is probably best known for playing Uncle Owen in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, has died today at the age of 89.

One thing I always found interesting about Brown was that he was one of the American actors who got "blacklisted" during the McCarthy witch-hunt of the 1950s. Brown never had anything to do with the Communists though, not so far as anyone's been able to find anyway. He moved his family to England and continued work as an actor there. It was some years later that he got picked to play the part of a simple farmer in a science-fiction epic that practically nobody felt sure about. The rest, as they say, is history.

I met him very briefly in the spring of 2002, at Star Wars Celebration II. There's a story about that, and it would be really neat to share that because there was a certain kind of irony to it, but I'm gonna hold off on it right now. Just wanted to take that opportunity though to pass along that I got the impression that he was a very nice guy and it was an honor to have met him.

EDIT 6:47 PM EST: Okay, here's the story...

As part of TheForce.net contingent I shared a hotel room with the site's creator Scott Chitwood during Star Wars Celebration II in 2002. The day before it officially kicked off, it was him, editor Joshua Griffin and me up in our room when the phone rang. Someone asked if we could go pick up a wheelchair for Phil Brown. So we hopped in Josh's minivan and off we went. It was on the return trip back that Scott noticed something: we were helping to get a wheelchair for the man who played Uncle Owen, while in Star Wars Episode II Owen's father Cliegg Lars is confined to a "wheelchair" following a Tusken Raider attack.

It was later that night at this fancy dinner-thingy that I got to meet Brown. Like I said before, he was a really neat fella. Wish now I'd gotten his autograph.