The Star Wars universe is so infinity large, occasionally characters can slip through the intergalactic cracks, like copper coins down the back of a cosmic sofa. This isn't helped by the fact that the original trilogy didn't credit every actor involved.
Consequently, One Mystery Has Plagued 'Star Wars' Fans For Years: Who Is BoShek?
Casual viewers may not have paid much attention BoShek's appearance in A New Hope. According to Wookieepedia, BoShek was a human smuggler who had a limited, yet integral role in the original narrative.
In the Mos Eisley Cantina scene, Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker enter to look for a pilot to transport them to Alderaan. Obi-Wan's first choice is BoShek himself, who politely declines, but points the duo in the direction of Chewbacca and Han Solo.
35 Seconds Into The Scene Below, You'll Only See The Enigma Appear Momentarily
In total, he appears for about four seconds, if my calculation is correct. I'm not a lip reading expert, but it looks like he says: "You're better off trying him."
He then cooly glides away into a galaxy far, far away... assumedly.
And THAT'S IT! If this were any other movie, it'd be the end of it. Finished. But this is Star Wars. And, in addition to those four seconds of footage, BoShek has an entire rich backstory and curious fanatics to match.
Oh, And He Also Had An Action Figure
Lucasfilm churns out action figures like they are going out of fashion, with even minor characters having a minuscule plastic clone. BoShek's incarnation was created in 2001, and you can even buy it on eBay (there was one for sale at $13.50 — bargain!)
For 40 Years The Identity Of The Actor Has Been Unknown... Until Now
American true crime journalist and Star Wars enthusiast Billy Jensen was attending a convention specifically on the 'Secrets of the Mos Eisley Cantina' and was stunned when he realized even the people running the panel, Tom Spina and Pablo Hidalga, didn't even know who played BoShek.
Writing on his blog post 'Finding BoShek,' he explained his decision to explore:
So as I sat with my daughter listening to Spina and Hidalgo’s panel, I felt I had found my sense of purpose in the Star Wars universe. Since Star Wars has neither had a journalist nor a detective onscreen, this could be my best chance to make a contribution.
And contribute Jensen did. After extensive searching with the aide of Spina and Hidalga appeared futile, he put out a message online, and was eventually contacted by a member of the actor's family. The message reads:
My Dad Mr Frances, Alfred, Basil Tomlin played the part of Boshek. Everyone knew 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 recognised as his claim to fame was his part as Boshek and a storm trooper in the first Star Wars film. [sic]
And Here He Is — BoShek, a.k.a. Mr. Frances Alfred Basil Tomlin
Although uncredited in A New Hope, Tom even had another role as an unnamed Stormtrooper.
Sadly, he passed away long before he was uncovered as BoShek. But journalist Jensen isn't resting on his laurels — he is now working on getting the mutton-chopped, posthumous recognition he deserves.
Better late than never for the actor who could've been Han Solo.