There he was in Mos Eisley Cantina: tall, dark, mysterious. Those raised eyebrows, the black spacesuit, the impressive sideburns. BoShek could have been Han Solo—they did share a certain ’70s greasiness—but he deferred Ben Kenobi’s charter to Chewbacca. Perhaps he asked too many questions, or didn’t want to get caught up in any Imperial entanglements. (According to the 1981 NPR Dramatization Of Star Wars, the Corellian Spacer had already made a deal to raise ship that night with some other passengers.) It wasn’t BoShek’s destiny to get tied up with the dysfunctional Skywalkers, and he was never seen again—and neither was the actor who played him. In a fandom where anyone who’s ever donned a Stormtrooper costume can charge $25 for an autograph at Wizard World, BoShek remained a mystery—until now.
Billy Jensen, an American journalist and producer who focuses on unsolved crimes, recently took it upon himself to solve the mystery of Bo Shek. “I sat with my daughter in the Anaheim Convention center, listening to Tom Spina and Pablo Hidalga’s fantastic panel ‘Secrets of the Mos Eisley Cantina,’” Jensen writes on his website. “I was shocked to discover that we had no idea who the actor was who played BoShek.”
The journalist adds, “BoShek even has his own action figure. But we don’t know the name of actor who played him? If these two Star Wars scholars—Spina, an incredible designer who had recently recreated the Cantina scene for a Volkswagen commercial, and Hidalgo, Creative Executive at Lucasfilm—did not know who BoShek was, it was pretty safe to say the internet didn’t either. But the crowd can be very powerful when tapped.”
With that, the investigative journalist tapped away for some time, just about giving up until the morning of February 9, 2016, when the grandson of the man who was BoShek e-mailed Jensen:
Hi, I wanted to let you know that it was my grandfather who played the part of BoShek,” the email began. “As a family we have always known he played the part. However we have only just found out that they made a toy of him.
Sadly he is dead now but we are trying to get his name put on to the credits as I believe others have taken credit for it. If you are genuinely interested I could try and dig out some pictures of him to prove I’m not pulling your leg.
Through this connection, Jensen got in touch with the daughter of the man, Mr. Frances Alfred Basil Tomlin. She replied:
Everyone new my Dad as Tom. Unfortunately my Dad passed away over 11 years ago now but it would be nice if we could get his name reconised as his claim to fame was his part as Boshek and a storm trooper in the first Star Wars film.
She included this photo…
There’s no mistaking those sideburns. The mystery was finally solved. And with Lucas’ constant tinkering with the original Star Wars, it should be nothing to finally credit “Tom” with the role of BoShek. (Even James Earl Jones wasn’t credited with his voiceover work as Darth Vader until 1997.)
Hopefully, Corellian justice will finally be served for the Stu Sutcliffe of the Rebel Alliance.
[h/t Making Star Wars]