Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
The Tunisian film set where Ken Nightingall and numerous others first helped bring George Lucas’ space-based dreams to life.
The Tunisian film set where Ken Nightingall and numerous others first helped bring George Lucas’ space-based dreams to life.
Photo: FETHI BELAID/AFP (Getty Images)

Ken Nightingall, a veteran boom operator for dozens of films, and who achieved internet fame a few years ago after a photo surfaced of him working on the set of Star Wars, has died. Nightingall, 92, picked up the nickname “pink shorts boom guy” among fans for the famous photo, which saw him weathering the harsh Tunisian heat during the film’s shooting by capturing audio wearing nothing but, yes, a pink pair of tight shorts. Per Variety, Nightingall died on Tuesday, at his home in England.

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Nighingall cut his teeth in the world of (often low-budget) British film, capturing sound for everything from Alfie to MST3K mainstay The Deadly Bees to The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Often uncredited for his work, Nightingall nevertheless built a reputation for consistent and quality operation, which is presumably how his name got to George Lucas when he was assembling a crew for Star Wars—and how he ended up in the middle of the desert holding a boom mic, recording a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about space wizards while nearly in the buff.

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A few years ago—when the famous photo first began circulating online, even picking up a number of cosplay adherents—ABC News tracked down Nightingall to ask him about it (and also, presumably to let him know he was now suddenly quasi-internet famous). He was straightforward in his answers about the pink shorts: “It was very, very hot,” he noted, a common refrain from everybody who worked on the film’s Tatooine sets. Still, though he seemed to enjoy the interest, stating, “I think it’s very nice, they seem to like it. Good for them.”

Although Star Wars was undoubtedly the biggest film of Nightingall’s career—including a trip to Buckingham Palace for the film’s whole crew after the movie won several Academy Awards—he continued to work consistently in the industry for the next 20 years. His credits include multiple Bond films, well-remembered spoof Top Secret!, and, for his final job, the 1998 Lost In Space movie.

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