Star Wars: when Emperor Palpatine was played by a woman
There was a time when Darth Vader’s superior Emperor Palpatine was played not by Ian McDiarmid, but by a woman: Marjorie Eaton, who was in the mask of this dreaded Star Wars villain in “The Empire Against. attack”.
The name of Marjorie Eaton is not the one that is most remembered by fans of Star Wars, and yet! She was the one who played Emperor Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back. Why is it no longer noticed on the screen? Since George Lucas’ alterations to his film in 2004, the actress has been deleted from the film in favor of Ian McDiarmid, interpreter of Palpatine since Return of the Jedi and in numerous productions thereafter, including The Rise of Skywalker or Star Wars Rebels.
Marjorie Eaton therefore paid the price for the George lucas to give a second life to his films, while allowing the logical continuity of the original trilogy with the prelogy. Despite training as an actress, she first worked as an architect and painter, and began her film career late. She appears briefly in Billy Wilder’s Witness or A Perfect Crime by William Castle, as well as The Forsyte Dynasty adapted from John Galsworthy. She can be spotted at the start of Mary Poppins, playing “Madame Persimmon”, a lady in front of the park attending Bert’s number.
After make-up tests carried out on Elaine Melba Parkyn (then married to make-up artist Rick Baker), the character of Emperor Palpatine will therefore be played by Marjorie Eaton, whose upper face is covered with a latex mask sculpted by Phil Tippett on which chimpanzee eyes have been superimposed by special effects. As the Dark Lord of the Sith is a male character, Marjorie Eaton’s voice is dubbed in post-production by that of Clive Revill, who will be replaced as of Return of the Jedi by Ian McDiarmid, who becomes both the body and the voice of Palpatine. Here’s what the original Palpatine looked like:
Like Palpatine, the male character of Greedo was also briefly played by a Canadian actress, Maria De Aragon. On the set, it is a certain Paul Blake who plays the bounty hunter during the cantina scene, but it is De Aragon who will wear his costume for the close-ups and the shots intended to maintain the continuity of the sequence. In both cases, actor Larry Ward will double as the character in the final cut. We can see Maria De Aragon on these archive footage.
If Maria De Aragon is still alive, Marjorie Eaton died in 1986, at the age of 85, without officially appearing in the credits of episode V.
An episode V which is not exempt from False fittings, according to Michel and Michel: