Cinematic history is filled with famous canines, from Lassie and Rin Tin Tin to Benji and Tramp, but just as with actors, there are some underdogs that never get the attention they deserve. One such pup was Indiana, an Alaskan Malamute owned by Star Wars creator George Lucas in the 1970s. The huge dog used to ride alongside Lucas in his car, inspiring Lucas to create a hairy copilot for one of his most famous characters, Han Solo. That's right, Chewbacca the Wookiee owes his existence to a dog. Lucas said his constant companion "inspired me to give Han Solo a sidekick who was like a big, furry dog. Not quite like a dog, but intelligent." Like the Malamute, Chewbacca was a big boy and needed a big actor to wear the costume. Luckily, a 7-foot-3 (2.2-m) actor named Peter Mayhew was available, and the rest is sci-fi history. For the record, the dog was also the inspiration for the name of another famous George Lucas character, the whip-yielding adventurer Indiana Jones.
The stars align for George Lucas:
- George Lucas became a filmmaker only after giving up on being a professional race car driver and joining the U.S. Air Force.
- Many Star Wars fans seem to dislike the character of Jar Jar Binks, but George Lucas has called him one of his favorites.
- One of George Lucas's first jobs was working as a cameraman on the Rolling Stones concert film Gimme Shelter.