According to Carrie Fisher, Lucas gave her a copy of the special as a gift for recording the DVD commentary for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). She claimed that she played it at parties when she wanted her guests to leave.
The special has never been released on video, but bootleg videos have been circulating for years, and are now all over the internet. George Lucas remarked at an Australian convention that "if I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every bootlegged copy of that program and smash it."
Saun Dann (Art Carney) was an early incarnation of Lando Calrissian, who was described in early drafts (December 1978) of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) in Lucas' notes as being a gambler who runs a general store on Kashyyyk, "a guy who trades with the Indians."
A scene featuring Darth Vader talking to an officer on the Death Star was actually cut footage from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). In that scene, Leslie Schofield, who portrayed Chief Bast, is retconned as an unidentified officer (as Bast died on the Death Star). Additionally, an unused scene of stormtroopers searching Tatooine from Episode IV is used.
George Lucas came up with the idea of focusing on Chewbacca's family. Writer Bruce Vilanch objected, because the dialogue would all be in the Wookiee language, but Lucas refused to change it. According to Vilanch, Lucas originally intended for the story of Chewbacca's family to appear somewhere in the "Star Wars" saga.
The Holiday Special is the first time that James Earl Jones was credited with performing the voice of Darth Vader. The next time would be during the end credits of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
David Acomba was the original director, but he quit after a few days of shooting. He directed the musical numbers by Bea Arthur and Jefferson Starship. Acomba also commissioned the animated segment featuring Boba Fett.
Ben Burtt created the sounds that Malla and Itchy made from recordings of bears and lions at Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, Washington. For Lumpy's sounds, he used a recording of a baby bear at the San Diego Zoo.
Malla (Chewbacca's wife), Lumpy (Chewbacca's son), and Itchy (Chewbacca's father) were nicknames of their actual names: Mallatobuck, Lumpawarrump, and Attichicuk respectively. The names of the members of Chewbacca's family were later incorporated into the canon of the Star Wars Extended Universe.
Nearly forty years later, almost all of the surviving cast who appeared in this one-off show are still embarrassed by it's existence, with only the late Carrie Fisher being known to have embraced its awfulness. C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels stated that George Lucas has been known to walk out of interviews when an interviewer starts to ask questions about this show (in the 1990s, Lucas stated that he believed the master tapes no longer existed, although this does not appear to be quite correct) and has also stated that the show will never be made available again. Harrison Ford has also said that he does not remember very much about appearing in it, and has never seen it either, so there is no point in asking him any questions. Mark Hamill has cleverly managed to dodge most of the questions asked of him about it, leaving Carrie Fisher as the only actress who was willing to publicly have anything to say about it.
According to Mark Hamill, this one-off television show was devised by George Lucas as a way to keep the unexpected success of the original 1977 release fresh in the mind of the fans and help keep the merchandise selling in shops. In 1978, the script was still being written for Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Lucas was concerned that as filming wouldn't start until 1979, and the final film wouldn't be released until the summer of1980, the Star Wars brand would quickly be forgotten about, so this television special was hastily devised to keep the concept alive until the sequel would hit theaters eighteen months later. However, when Lucas watched the final production, he was horrified at the resulting show, and felt it wasn't just badly executed, but could easily be seen as an attempt at a cheap cash-in, as well as cheapening the Star Wars brand. While he was too late to stop it getting a television airing in North America and Canada, he was at least able to prevent the show being aired in most other territories where Star Wars had also proven to be a massive success.