Our May 15 Entertainment Memorabilia sale, TCM Presents ... Wonders of the Galaxy: Science Fiction and Fantasy in Film, is highlighted by a complete Darth Vader costume from "The Empire Strikes Back" - Star Wars Episode V (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1980).
In 1977, Kermit Eller saw a friend with a crew t-shirt for the upcoming film Star Wars. He asked his friend to get him one, too, an extra-extra large (Kermit is 6'4"). When the friend asked if the largest size was available, the team at Lucasfilm asked, "Who wants to know?" Not only is Kermit (who now goes by the name Bryce, because he is sick of Muppet jokes) tall, he has a deep and commanding voice, and does a great James Earl Jones impersonation. Those traits landed him a gig making personal appearances as Darth Vader for both the first and second Star Wars films.
From 1977-1979, Kermit wore the screen-used Vader costume, the only one produced for the film. As Vader he appeared on the 1978 Academy Awards telecast, as well as in printed promotional material for the film. By 1979, the suit had seen better days, so for the next film, he was provided with one of a few complete costumes produced for The Empire Strikes Back. Eller continued to make personal appearances as Vader through 1981, at which point he packed the suit up in its two flight cases and stored it in his garage until the present day.
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