Yoda Modeled After Mormon Prophet

MYTH: Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda was modeled after LDS President Spencer W. Kimball.


For quite some time a story has been circulating through LDS communities that Yoda, the wise but backward speaking Jedi master from the mega popular Star Wars movie series was intentionally modeled after President Spencer W. Kimball. Some variations even assert that George Lucas was in contact with leaders of the LDS Church as he wrote the Star Wars prequels and even received direction from them to include Mormon doctrine in each film.

It is possible that this myth actually started out as a joke. A comparison of both Yoda and Kimball reveal several, loose similarities (both are balding on the top of their heads, big ears, clean shaven faces.) My wife, for one, was very amused by the similarities when I showed her pictures of each. But those similarities are spurious at best.

The Yoda character was designed by special effects crews and puppetry artists working with Industrial Light and Magic, Inc. [ILM], which is responsible for all the special effects in the Star Wars movies. ILM is a subsidiary of Lucasfilm, which is owned by George Lucas.
Anne Merrifield, Secretary to George Lucas at Lucasfilm Ltd., stated:

…we never cease to be amazed at the stories that are out there. Yoda was most definitely not modeled after Spencer W. Kimball, and if people believe there is any sort of LDS doctrine in the “Star Wars” movies, it is completely coincidental.

Therefore, both myths are officially denied…

According to “So Now You Know…A Compendium of Completely Useless Information,” Yoda’s face was modeled after Albert Einstein.[1]

George Lucas is not affiliated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One can find philosophical comparisons between Mormon doctrine and the philosophies within the Star Wars movies. The relationship of Jedi masters and padawans, a companionship of two, one senior and one junior, is similar to the way missionary companions are formed – two missionaries, one senior and one junior.

Additionally, the council of the Jedi (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles), who counsel together in the Jedi temple, leads the Jedi as they use the light side of the force (the priesthood or Holy Spirit?) in their quest to rid the world of the Sith and the Dark side (evil). The Jedi rely on the force (Holy Spirit) to guide their actions and protect them from their enemies.

I believe that those similarities are not coincidental. The philosophies within the Star Wars movies are very similar, and are likely based on, modern Christianity. The battle between good and evil, light and dark, is a timeless theme and not unique to either Mormonism or Star Wars. We also find Christian influence in the immaculate birth of Anakin (the chosen one who was expected to bring balance to the force ) as well as distinctly Orthodox views as the Jedi are not allowed to marry.

If the philosophies presented in Star Wars were influenced by Biblical Christianity, then it makes sense to find some similarities with Mormon doctrine, considering that Mormons believe in the Bible as well.

[1] Harry Bright, Harlan Briscoe. So Now You Know…A Compendium of Completely Useless Information, MFJ Books, New York 2004, p.107

1 comment:

  1. Yoda is a product of Joe Johnston's doodling of one of his (mine too) rapid vizualization instructors of the school of Industrial Design from California State University Long Beach in California. Dean Myers has since passed away, but he was a beloved teacher, like Yoda, with the wisdom and the energy we all felt from the film's depiction of the character. Lucas saw Joe's school portfolio and asked him to further the concept for Star Wars.. they even implemented Dean's personality kinda sorta. You put the two side by side - the resemblance is striking although
    Spencer Kimball has those same ears and a likeness.. Dean did too, but not as pronounced. I would suspect Joe wasn't thinking of Spencer when sitting in class drawing the people around him for fun. They didn't just make Yoda up in a vacuum. You'd never ever know this unless you knew Joe J who mentioned it to me 25 years ago when we had him speak about industrial design.. Lee Bracker