Ken Nightingall, known as 'Star Wars pink shorts boom guy,' dies at 92

Tatooine (or really, Tunisia) was very hot, and he was in the pink.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
2 min read

Star Wars crew member Ken Nightingall, who died on Tuesday at age 92, may not have been as well-known as stars such as Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Nightingall served as a boom microphone operator on multiple films, but is best known for a photo snapped while he was holding a mic on 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope. It wasn't the scene itself that earned Nightingall fame, but his attire: He was shirtless and wearing pink shorts, black socks, and brown work boots.

"Sadly, Ken Nightingall passed away last night," a tweet from the Association of Motion Picture Sound reported on Thursday. "Ken was a boom operator, he worked on multiple Bond films and was the famous 'pink shorts' boom op on original Star Wars. Other credits include Alfie, Funeral in Berlin, The Boys from Brazil and Supergirl. He was a legend!"

The behind-the-scenes pink shorts photo went viral after a fan posted it to Reddit in 2015 with the caption, "Next time you watch Star Wars, I need you to remind yourself that all the dialogue you hear was recorded by a man in pink short shorts."

According to a 2019 interview with ABC News, Nightingall was entertained by his late-in-life fame, and by the fact that some Star Wars fans were even cosplaying as him at conventions.

"I think it's very nice," Nightingall, then 90, said. "They seem to like it. Good for them."

The shorts were more than justified, he recalled, as the Tatooine scenes were shot in a sweltering Tunisia.

"It was very, very hot," Nightingall told ABC.

Nightingall worked on dozens of movies during his career. According to Deadline, he is survived by his wife and two children. His son, Terence, followed his dad into Hollywood, and is a camera operator and director in Los Angeles.

Nightingall's not the only Star Wars veteran with an unusual kind of fame for a brief moment captured while working on the original film. British actor Michael Leader, who died in 2016, will be forever remembered as the Stormtrooper who bonked his head in an infamous scene.