Happy Birthday to Legendary Sound Designer Ben Burtt and Star Wars Author / Blogger Bonnie Burton!


Ben BurttBen Burtt

Ben Burtt

You may never have heard of Ben Burtt, but unless you’re hearing-impaired it’s practically certain you’ve heard him and the results of his work. Ever heard Darth Vader’s breathing? Ben Burtt. Heard R2-D2′s whistles and beeps? Ben Burtt. WALL-E’s voice? Ben Burtt. Ever imitated the hum of a lightsaber? Yep, you guessed it: Ben Burtt. And that’s only scratching the surface.

On July 12, 1948, Ben Burtt was born, and probably started making noise. He was in his twenties when he was hired by George Lucas for Star Wars, and the rest is history. His resume has to be one of the most impressive of anyone in the entertainment world, including (among many others) all six live-action Star Wars films, all four Indiana Jones films, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, The Dark Crystal, WALL-E, and last year’s Star Trek reboot. Yes, it also includes the notoriously awful Howard the Duck, but all that really means is that the sound design was probably the best part of the film. Burtt is also in large part responsible — and you may or may not consider this a good thing — for popularizing the distinctive “Wilhelm scream,” which he himself imitated in Return of the Jedi as the Imperial officer Han pushes over the railing. Oh, yeah, and he’s won four Oscars and been nominated for eight more.

So please join all of us at GeekDad in wishing Ben Burtt a very happy 63rd birthday, and many more to come! Raise a glass in toast to the man who, more than anyone else, is responsible for the way some of the most memorable movies of the past several decades sounded. You can also read an excellent interview with Burtt from three years ago.

Bonnie Burton (the one in the middle)

But wait, there’s more! Today also happens to be the birthday of Bonnie Burton — author, journalist, craft geek, blogger, and expert in all things Star Wars. Burton, whom GeekDad’s Jenny Williams interviewed a few months ago, and whose The Star Wars Craft Book John Booth reviewed just before that, is a Content Developer for Lucas Online, StarWars.com Senior Editor, staff writer for Star Wars Insider magazine, and lead writer for The Official Star Wars Blog. As if that weren’t enough, she’s also the author of a great, not Star Wars-related book called Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change.

So also please join all of us at GeekDad in wishing Bonnie Burton a very happy 38th birthday, and many more to come! You can send her birthday wishes directly on Twitter at @bonniegrrl.

Incidentally, can it be a coincidence that two people with the same initials, whose last names begin with the same four letters, and who have both been involved with Star Wars in some way, were born on the same date, albeit 25 years apart?

Well, yes, of course it can be, because it is. But still a heck of a coincidence, don’t you think?

Photo of Ben Burtt by Deborah Coleman, © Disney/PIXAR.
Photo of Bonnie Burton (and troopers) by Terri Hodges, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note: Part of this article was originally published on GeekDad on July 12, 2010.

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