The Story of the Greatest Spoiler in Film History

Dustin Waters
Dustin Waters is a writer from Macon, Ga, currently living in D.C. After years as a beat reporter in the Lowcountry, he now focuses his time on historical oddities, trashy movies, and the merits of professional wrestling.

Little did they know, but in the summer of 1978, the San Francisco Examiner revealed one of the greatest surprises in film history. And they did it years before the movie even came out. 

In the modern era of the internet and film discourse, the concept of a “spoiler” has become a serious issue for many. The act of ruining a surprise reveal or twist ending has become tantamount to a personal betrayal. 

At the same time, we are bombarded with so much information at such an accelerated rate that folks are often left with no other option than to cut themselves off from the rest of the world less they risk the dreaded spoiler. That’s why it’s so crazy to consider that the most shocking reveal in the entirety of the Star Wars franchise was announced two years before the film was released to theaters. It’s just that nobody really noticed. 

In the July 24, 1978 edition of the San Francisco Examiner, an unnamed writer reported on a Star Wars promotional meet-in-greet in Berkeley, California. The event is said to have drawn over 1,000 attendees to shake hands with David Prowse, the actor behind the iconic Darth Vader suit. 

The article was clearly of little importance to the higher-ups at the Examiner. It was relegated to page four, while the lead stories documented an ongoing postal worker strike and the dwindling strength of the U.S. dollar. 

With the headline “May the sequel be with you,” the article in discussion ran alongside a rundown of the Financial Independence Expo and an ad for velveteen blazers. Despite this relegation, those described in the Star Wars article are still riding high on the breakout success of the first film. 

“They came in costume: a dozen Han Solos, Luke Skywalkers, Princess Leia, and one Tusken raider. They came on skateboards, and they came on bicycles. Some came dragging parents, and some came dragging children,” wrote the uncredited author. 

The focus of the article then turns to Prowse, who fielded questions from those in attendance. At the top of everyone’s mind: When will we see a followup to the first Star Wars?

Prowse was happy to inform fans that filming was set to begin in February 1979. Unfortunately, he warned the audience, the film would not be released until May 1980. 

Prowse was correct about the release date of what would be The Empire Strikes Back. But he wasn’t done. “But right after that will be Star Wars III,” he announced to a cheering crowd. 

Then came the shocking reveal that would cause someone to be blackballed from the film industry today. Hell, this sort of spoiler might result in someone entering the witness protection program if such an egregious reveal was committed in the modern day. 

“And he offered a glimpse of a possible plot for the sequel,” the Examiner reported. “Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker … are hooked up in a do-or-die lightsaber duel when Luke learns that Darth is, in fact, his long-lost father.”

Prowse is quoted as elaborating, “Father can’t kill son, son can’t kill father. So they live again to star in Star Wars IV.”

So a few things here: It’s highly unlikely that Prowse knew that the hell he was talking about. I say this while pointing to the mention of Star Wars IV. But also we have this comment from Luke Skywalker himself stating that no one else on the cast knew about the reveal that Vader was Luke’s father. 

So does that mean that Prowse was able to predict the biggest twist in movie history? Was this just a profound coincidence? Or perhaps this English bodybuilder floated the idea for the greatest surprise reveal in the history of film. The galaxy may never know. 

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