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Stormtrooper who bonked head in original Star Wars movie has died

British actor Michael Leader will be remembered for his long-term role on the BBC's popular "EastEnders," but the famed space blooper will never be forgotten.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor 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." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read

While Princess Leia snarked that Luke was too short to be a Stormtrooper, this guy had the opposite problem.

Michael Leader, the British actor believed to have played the Stormtrooper who famously clonks his helmet on a low-clearance entrance in the original 1977 "Star Wars: A New Hope," died on Monday, the BBC reported. His age was not given.

Fans of British soap "EastEnders" knew him as Michael the milkman, and he'd been on the show since its first episode back in 1985.

But every tribute also mentioned that he's believed to be the source of one of filmdom's classic bloopers. As a group of Imperial Stormtroopers rush through a doorway on the Death Star, one of them clonks his helmeted head on the entrance's low clearance. If you've got a copy of the movie, look for it at about 1:22: 24 in, during scenes where Luke and crew are in the trash compactor and R2-D2 and C-3PO are frantically trying to save them.

Leader, ironically, was not the Stormtrooper in the lead, so his gaffe apparently went unnoticed in editing. The not-even-a-second-long bump rewards sharp-eyed viewers with one of the most hilarious moments in a classic movie, like the ""="">Roman soldiers who left their watches on in "Spartacus."

The noggin-knock became so beloved that it even earned a nod in the 2002 prequel, "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones," where Jango Fett is seen bumping his head in a similar manner. (It's at 2:42 in this video.)

There's some debate over which actor was the Stormtrooper who smacked his head, with the Star Wars Wikia Wookieepedia suggesting it was either Leader or another actor, Laurie Goode, who played a variety of roles in the original film. Both recalled taking head bumps on the set, giving a whole new meaning to The Force.