I've long said that the original Star Wars (sans "New Hope") was to movies what The Beatles were to popular music. News like this continues to reinforce that. A year ago, a man died in England. It made the news. Who was he? I can't remember. Never heard of him. Why did it make the news? Because the man, decades ago when he was a teenager, was one of the members of a small garage band called The Quarrymen. Yep, John Lennon's original band. That's phenomenon status. When someone who worked with one of the Beatles makes news, that means The Beatles have a status surpassing mere celebrity.
Star Wars is the same. Whether the actor who played Uncle Owen, or General Motti, or the Cantina bully with a death sentence on 12 systems, the slightest association with the original film will make news. That's a phenomenon.