Ken Nightingall, a Star Wars legend in his own right, has sadly passed away, bringing even more terrible news to an incredibly dark time. A veteran boom operator with decades of experience in the movie industry, Nightingall is particularly well known to Star Wars fans as the "pink shorts boom guy" seen in a viral behind the scenes photo from the set of the original movie. A cause of death wasn't immediately made available, but the legendary crew member reportedly died on May 19 at his home in the United Kingdom. He was 92 years old.
"I first met Ken when I entered the industry over 50 years ago," says Oscar-winning sound mixer Chris Munro in a statement about Nightingall's death. "He was immensely supportive of me as I carved my early career as a young sound mixer. 'Legend' is the word that springs to mind when I try to describe him. He will be sadly missed by our film community but his is a life and career that should be celebrated. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time."
Nightingall further achieved worldwide internet fame when a photo from the set of A New Hope went viral after it was posted on Reddit. In the image, Nightingall steals the thunder from Luke Skywalker and C3P0 as he works wearing nothing but shoes and very short pink shorts. Very quickly, the photo became a meme and spread throughout social media, making Nightingall a viral star and even inspiring Star Wars fans to cosplay in pink shorts with a boom mic at fan conventions.
Of course, word of the fan appreciation for Nightingall made its way back to the famous "pink shorts boom guy" himself, and Nightingall spoke about his viral fame with ABC News in 2019. "They seem to like it, good for them," Nightingall says of the cosplayers, seeming to be surprised yet flattered that he'd suddenly developed a following of fans choosing to cosplay as him instead of Han Solo or Darth Vader. Still, Nightingall also said he was dressed the way he was that day merely because it was "very, very hot," so he wasn't trying to make a fashion statement, and he certainly couldn't have foreseen the photos making him popular several decades later.
With a career dating back to the 1960s, Nightingall had worked as a boom operator for dozens of Hollywood projects. This includes multiple stints with James Bond movies like For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and The Living Daylights. Some other notable titles to have had Nightingall on the set include Death Wish 3, Supergirl, Alfie, Funeral in Berlin, and The Boys From Brazil. His final credit was for the 1998 sci-fi movie Lost in Space.
Nightingall's survivors include his wife, Rose; daughter, Toni; and son, Terence. We offer our condolences to them at this time. For Star Wars fans, it's very sad to see the legendary boom operator leaving us at this time, but it's good to know he had heard about his popularity and was aware of all of the fan tributes he'd been given due to his work on Star Wars so many years ago. May he rest in peace. This news comes to us from Deadline.