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Lucky Star Wars Fan Makes Big Discovery

Written By: E. Thomas

05/25/2011

A lucky Star Wars fan has made the discovery of a lifetime. One of our readers has found what could be the earliest George Lucas signature on record. The story begins when our reader, we'll call him "Tom," was working at his first job at a production company in Hollywood, CA. The company was the prestigious Family Theater Productions. Its founder, Father Patrick Peyton, was responsible for one of the World's most familiar memes. His slogan; "The family that prays together, stays together" has been part of popular culture for over 50 years.

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Father Peyton Speaks to a Massive Crowd

"This was my first job in the motion picture industry" says our reader Tom. Interestingly enough Family Theater also gave James Dean, William Shatner and George Lucas their first jobs in the industry. James Dean made his first movie appearance in the film Hill Number One. Dean played "John the Apostle." (Pictured below.) William Shatner starred in three films centering around the psalms, including an award winning short film called The Soldier. And legendary filmmaker George Lucas got his first gig with the company working as a Camera Assistant. These were certainly humble beginnings for three of Hollywood's biggest names.

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James Dean in "Hill Number One"

Tom says: "I was just a kid when I first started working for the company." He contines his story telling me there had been a rumor that George Lucas had received his first screen credit working for the company in the mid 1960s. "At the time we still had a few older employees who had been with the company since the early 1960s, and they insisted the rumors were true. This included a Priest named Father Heinzer and a Producer named Austin 'Pete' Peterson." (Peterson was actually the producer of the legendary Colgate Comedy Hour, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.) "Both of these men were my friends. And Mr. Peterson and I were very close. I used to joke with him saying that he was my Obi-Wan Kenobi. It was Pete who told me about the George Lucas screen credit." Tom says at the time he was a huge Star Wars fan. Judging by the appearance of his home, which is filled with Star Wars collectibles, his passion for the saga continues to this day.

Tom continues: "Now my boss at the time was a Mr. Dennis Roverato. He was a handsome, dashing looking fellow with an Errol Flynn moustache. He was like a mentor to me. He was also kind, gracious and extremely patient. I was a brash, impetuous young man, fresh off the bus from Upstate NY. I had no idea what I was doing in the big city. And without people like Dennis I would never have survived in Los Angeles. I was full of energy and I constantly needed something to keep me busy. This is when I began my quest to find the lost first screen credit of Mr George Lucas."

Tom explains the company was getting ready to transfer and preserve their old films. And they needed someone to supervise the transfer. "Dennis figured I was the best man for the job. Plus it would keep me busy. I was given the job of reviewing the entire Family Theater film catalog. This was no small task. The company had produced dozens of films over the years. I was witness to the entire history of the company. I was to watch each movie and then prepare the film reels for transfer and preservation. This is when I discovered the lost first screen credit of George Lucas. At first I hadn't believed the rumors, but when I finally discovered the truth I was speechless."

However finding the screen credit was only the beginning of the adventure. Tom continues: "Once I found the credit I immediately wondered if Mr Lucas had signed a contract. Or maybe there was something else in the archives with his signature?" Tom informs me that during this time the Family Theater building was going through a lot of renovations, and much of the company archives were headed to the local dump. "I had to act fast, so I frantically started looking through every bit of paperwork. I spent every lunch break I had looking through the archives." Unfortunately for Tom his efforts were in vain. After months of searching he gave up hope. Until one day fate pushed him in the right direction.

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"When I was working for Family Theater I was sort of a jack of all trades. I basically did anything they asked of me. One day my boss decided we were going to clean out the basement. The basement of our building was filled with old furniture. That's were I found an old desk. I opened the desk drawer and inside I discovered a company guest book dating from the early 1960s. I asked my boss if I could have the guest book, thinking it was a neat souvenir of the company's history. He agreed and during my lunch hour I spent my time looking through the pages." This is when Tom made an incredible discovery. Buried in the pages was the signature of a person named "George W Lucas Jr." Tom continues "at first I didn't think it was him until I read a magazine interview with Mr Lucas. In the article it mentioned that his full name was George Walton Lucas Jr."

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Of course since that time Mr Lucas has dropped the "w" and the "jr" from his name. During his college years George Lucas had a brief falling out with his father. Although they eventually reconciled, the tensions between a father and son is a theme that became central to the Star Wars saga. So finding a signature where Mr Lucas still calls himself "George w Lucas Jr" was an incredible and extremely rare discovery.

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How did Tom know the autograph was legit? Well obviously there's the fact that Lucas signed the guest book using his full name. However another smoking gun is that Lucas also wrote down his home address, which was later confirmed by people working for the company during that era. The book is also filled with signatures from everyone who worked at Family Theater during the 1950s, 60s, and the early 70s. The book covers nearly three decades of company history. There are even a few signatures from other celebrities who worked for the company at the time. And of course the final confirmation came from Austin Peterson and Father Heinzer, who both worked for the company when Mr Lucas was doing his job as a Camera Assistant.

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A recent George Lucas signature: Obviously his handwriting has evolved since 1965

Autograph experts agree the signature and the book could be worth a great deal of money. But our reader Tom is not concerned with value at all. To him the book is priceless. "I would never sell it. Not for any price." Tom says "This signature reminds me that Mr Lucas started small just like me. And he went on to change the entire world. Its a tremendous inspiration for me, both as a massive Star Wars fan and as a person working in the entertainment industry."

Tom continues: "Not only is this an incredible Star Wars souvenir but its also a reminder of my first job in the industry. Working for Family Theater was one of the best times in my life. And at the time I was not a religious person, but everyone on the staff always treated me with love, kindness and respect. I was a half Jewish kid working at a Catholic film company. My time at the company inspired a great respect in my heart for all positive faiths. This is something I see in the work of George Lucas, which draws upon universal themes from religion and mythology. And hey all seriousness aside, I probably own one of the most unique Star Wars collectibles ever!"

There is no doubt this signature is the ultimate Star Wars collectible.

Collecting Sci-Fi Memorabilia:

Tungsten Rings