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"Come back soon, I'll be waiting!"

Ackmena was the nightshift bartender in Chalmun's Cantina in Mos Eisley on Tatooine. She was a favorite amongst the patrons there, as she was more approachable than the daytime bartender, Wuher. Ackmena, realizing this, requested better hours from her employer, Chalmun, but the Wookiee initially refused, sparking a confrontation between the two that lasted for months. Even though Ackmena was better liked than Wuher, during her shifts she was aided by Tork, a bouncer. As entertainment, she would occasionally sing to her patrons.

One night, after the Battle of Yavin, Ackmena had to fend off the advances of the amorous Krelman. Later that night, the Galactic Empire imposed a curfew on all residents of the Tatoo system. Ackmena tried to get her patrons to leave, but was initially unsuccessful, until she broke into song. She later turned her amateur singing into profit, teaming up with fellow entertainer Cebann Veekan. Together, the two of them formed an acting troupe, and enjoyed success with a production based on the life of Alliance to Restore the Republic war hero, Luke Skywalker. By the year 44 ABY, Ackmena had joined Freedom Flight, an organization dedicated to freeing slaves throughout the galaxy.


Pre-Yavin career[]

"Well, I'm certainly not going to get rich with customers like you. I thought I taught you to drink faster than that. Well, at least you're steady. Oh, come on now. Drink up, there's plenty more where that came from."

Ackmena with her patrons in Chalmun's Cantina.

Ackmena was a female Human from Tatooine[1] in the Arkanis sector of the Outer Rim Territories,[6] who was born between approximately 45 BBY and 41 BBY.[2] During the Galactic Civil War,[3] she worked as the nighttime bartender in Chalmun's Spaceport Cantina in the city of Mos Eisley.[7] She would often bid her patrons farewell with the words "Come back soon, I'll be waiting." A diminutive being aided her in her bartending tasks,[3] while the tall sentient Tork served as a bouncer.[8] Shortly before the Battle of Yavin[9] in 0 BBY,[10] she requested better hours from Chalmun, the cantina's owner.[9] In doing so, she cited her popularity over Wuher, the daytime bartender, but Chalmun did not agree, resulting in a conflict between the bartender and her Wookiee employer that lasted months.[1]

Broadcast blues[]

"Listen, Krelman, you're kind and sweet and terribly attractive, but if you're saying what I think you're saying you felt you meant I thought you needed to hear, then I just have one thing to say: I did not."

Shortly after the Battle of Yavin, Ackmena was tending the bar when footage was taken inside the cantina by the Imperial Council, and broadcast live to other systems, including the Kashyyyk system. As Tork ejected a patron from the cantina, Ackmena berated the Snivvian Zutmore for consuming his beverage too slowly, and suggested that he quicken his pace if he wanted to stay. She then went on to encourage Kelbo, a M'shento'su'Nikto who was reluctant to drink. Soon enough, she was approached by Krelman, who wanted to talk with her rather than drink. He arbitrarily ordered a drink, which Ackmena served, but she chose not to converse with the man—she had other customers waiting.[3]

Ackema and Krelman

Ackmena served the Ithorian Deneb Both next, but was then summoned back by Krelman, who had finished his drink and placed a flower in his cup for the bartender. Ackmena was flattered, and Krelman explained that he had been in the cantina previously. He had interpreted her parting words of "Come back soon, I'll be waiting," as a personal, unique message to him, and he now believed that he was meant to be with her. Krelman ventured behind the bar, and embraced Ackmena, but she responded by explaining that he had misinterpreted her words. The bartender was able to persuade Krelman to return to his seat by giving him a complimentary drink, but still the man would not accept the fact that she was not interested in him. As another one of her patrons, Pons Limbic, departed, she uttered her usual farewell. Realizing his folly, Krelman ceased his advances towards Ackmena.[3]


"Gentlemen, gentlemen. I don't know how to tell you this, but I guess the wall screen said it all. We're closed."
―Ackmena attempts to close the cantina[3]

Shortly thereafter, an Imperial message was displayed on the cantina's viewscreen—due to subversive activities, a curfew was to be placed on the Tatoo system, effective immediately. As a result, all of Ackmena's patrons were required by law to return to their homes, which was not an uncommon occurrence. Acting without delay, the bartender approached Barbarine and the Modal Nodes, a Bith band playing in the cantina that night. She asked Barbarine and his band to depart, perhaps forever, but this caused a considerable amount of discontent amongst both the musicians and the patrons. Relenting, Ackmena offered the band a round of complimentary drinks before departing, and had Tork collect their orders.[3]

Ackmena persuading Solomahal to leave the cantina

Ackmena continued her attempts to get her customers to depart, however. She approached a pair of Duros who were chatting animatedly and asked them politely to leave, but they ignored her. Growing frustrated, she began yelling, urging the cantina patrons to return to their homes, but they reacted violently by throwing things at her. Ackmena was outraged, but she stopped Tork from responding in kind. She quietly asked Zutmore and Kelbo to leave, citing the times in the past that she had loaned them money, but even they ignored her. Desperate for some support, she turned to the Rodian Bludlow, and the Sakiyan Thorp—they offered her the same response as the others. As a last-ditch effort, she approached the Lutrillian Solomahal, but unlike the others, had never encountered him before in the cantina.[3]

The situation reached fever pitch when the Devaronian Kardue'sai'Malloc[11] entered the bar, and reacted to Ackmena's insistence that they were closed by drawing a blaster. The bartender urged Tork to stand down, and the Devaronian took a seat. Thorp then demanded another drink, banging his empty glass on the table. He was soon joined by the other patrons in his protest. Realizing that she could not control the situation, Ackmena conceded, and offered everyone in the cantina one more drink, compliments of the bar. They all agreed, and as Ackmena began serving the drinks, she broke, unbidden, into a rendition of "Goodnight, But Not Goodbye," complemented by the Modal Nodes.[3]

Bludlow and Sakiyan refuse to leave

As Ackmena sang her song, the patrons gradually began to depart. When the Talz Caldera Righim left, Ackmena was approached by the Aqualish Teak Sidbam, who began to dance with her. Bludlow decided to join in, as did the Cathar Myhr Rho. Rho, however, grew overly amorous, and had to be ejected by Tork. While some of the customers had left, there were a significant number still seated, and so Ackmena took a new approach. She led a march around the cantina in time with the music, urging the customers to follow her. They did so, and she was able to lead them straight out the door, aided by Tork. When they were all gone, she bade goodbye to Barbarine and his band, Tork, and her diminutive assistant, before closing the doors to Chalmun's Cantina. When she turned back to the bar, Krelman was there, waiting with his flowers. Approaching him, she accepted the flowers, just as the Imperial broadcast of their activities stopped.[3]

The entertainer[]

"Well, I have customers to attend to, and my little Chadra-Fan waitress tends to get her hands full after about twenty minutes left on her own. Come back day after tomorrow and I'll have that shipment ready for you."
―Ackmena, speaking in code about a group of escaped slaves[5]

At some stage, Ackmena teamed up with Cebann Veekan, a Hamadryas who shared her theatrical skill. They eventually formed their own troupe, and Chalmun allowed them to perform at the cantina, provided they turned a profit.[12] The two of them would perform together, enjoying moderate success.[1] Following the Battle of Endor[7] in 4 ABY,[10] she and Veekan made a stage hit out of the life-story of Luke Skywalker, a Tatooine native who became a hero in the Alliance to Restore the Republic.[7] Their production inspired Myhr Rho, a regular at the cantina, to start up a tour of Tatooine locations tied to Skywalker's exploits.[13] Eventually, Ackmena and Veekan enjoyed enough success to move their production from Chalmun's Cantina to a more suitable venue.[1]

After achieving fame with her singing and becoming a Tatooine celebrity of sorts, Ackmena would nevertheless return to Chalmun's and tend the bar during the nightshift.[5] By 44 ABY,[14] she had joined Freedom Flight, an organization dedicated to freeing slaves throughout the galaxy. She met with the Bothan known as Blink, another member of the organization, in the cantina during one of her shifts to discuss a shipment of slaves that would be leaving the planet and earning their freedom. The conversation was watched by a male Human who was soon after killed by Blink and the young slave Kitaya Shuul. Blink then sent Shuul to inform Ackmena that the shipment would be delayed.[5]

Personality and traits[]

"What'll it be?"
"Hello, Ackmena."
"Okay, we'll do it your way. Hello. Now we'll do it my way. What'll it be?"
"Can we talk?"
"Well, of course we can talk. We are talking. You're not ordering. I'm not pouring. We are not drinking. We are talking."
―Ackmena and Krelman[3]

Ackema tends bar

1.82 meters tall[1] with Gray hair[3], Brown eyes,[4] and a light complexion,[3] Ackmena was better respected by spacers than Chalmun's daytime bartender, Wuher, who was considered surly and unapproachable.[7] She was cheerful, if gruff, and was admired by many of the cantina's regulars. While in her eighties, she was a member of Freedom Flight, an organization that directed its efforts towards freeing slaves throughout the galaxy.[5] In addition to her other skills, Ackmena was considered an expert in the mixing of beverages.[15]

During the Imperial broadcast, Ackmena would constantly encourage her patrons to purchase and consume more of her drinks, and would not tolerate loitering. She would not stop and chat idly with her patrons, as she had no desire to leave customers waiting. When Krelman insisted on engaging her in a conversation, she would begin performing other tasks, only paying cursory attention. She ignored him until he came into physical contact with her. When the Imperial curfew was issued, Ackmena did not question the orders, but was dissatisfied with them. Nevertheless, she acted quickly on the decree, and ushered her patrons home, although she was not initially successful. She was loathe to have Tork eject patrons, even when threatened with a deadly weapon. Ackmena tried a variety of non-violent methods when trying to get her customers to leave, before resorting to singing.[3]

Behind the scenes[]

"It was a wonderful time, but I had no idea it was even a part of the whole Star Wars thing. I just remember singing to a bunch of people with funny heads."
―Bea Arthur[16]

Pablo Hidalgo's drawing of a hypothetical Unleashed figure of Ackmena

The character of Ackmena was created for The Star Wars Holiday Special, a television special that aired in 1978. She was played by Bea Arthur, who was best-known at the time for her portrayal of the title character in the television series Maude. Arthur was friends with[16] Ken and Mitzie Welch,[17] the composers who had written the lyrics to the song "Goodnight, But Not Goodbye," and so she was cast in the role. While her[16] lengthy shoot[17] was being filmed, Arthur had no inkling that she was participating in anything related to Star Wars. Ackmena's song has been noted as a high point[16] of a program that, overall, was universally panned.[18]

Author Bonnie Burton has expressed her affection for Ackmena, citing the character's strength, intelligence, wit, and refusal to take guff from anyone as the driving forces behind her nostalgic love of The Star Wars Holiday Special. When Burton became an administrator of the StarWars.com forums, she chose a picture of Ackmena as her personal avatar.[19] In an article that Burton wrote concerning hypothetical figures for Hasbro's now-defunct Unleashed line of action figures, Ackmena was one of the characters chosen. Pablo Hidalgo provided an illustration of the hypothetical Ackmena figure.[20] Ackmena has also been referenced by James Luceno in his book Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy, which established that she was in a back office of the Mos Eisley Cantina during the cantina scene of the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.


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Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Databank title.png Ackmena in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ackmena is said to be "well into her eighties" during the events of Fate of the Jedi: Allies, which The Essential Reader's Companion places in 44 ABY.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 The Star Wars Holiday Special
  4. 4.0 4.1 Starlog Number 19, February 1979: ""Star Wars" Invades TV"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Fate of the Jedi: Allies
  6. StarWars.com Star Wars: The Essential Atlas Online Companion on StarWars.com (article) (backup link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
  8. SWInsider.png "Refresher Reading" – Star Wars Insider 91
  9. 9.0 9.1 Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy
  10. 10.0 10.1 The New Essential Chronology
  11. StarWars.com The Star Wars Holiday Special Cantina: Who's Who on StarWars.com (article) (backup link)
  12. Databank title.png Veekan, Cebann in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link)
  13. Databank title.png Rho, Myhr in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link)
  14. The Essential Reader's Companion
  15. SWInsider.png "Top 10 Most Unlikely Unleashed Figures" – Star Wars Insider 100
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 SWInsider.png "I Have a Bad Feeling About This!" – Star Wars Insider 106
  17. 17.0 17.1 The Han Solo Comedy Hour! (page 2 of 3). Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011.
  18. May the farce be with you (page 1 of 3). Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 15, 2019.
  19. Star Wars Blog.png "We'll Miss You, Ackmena," The Official Star Wars Blog (backup link)
  20. StarWars.com Checklist: 10 Unlikely Unleashed Figures - Ackmena on StarWars.com (content now obsolete; backup link)

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