David Prowse who was well known for physically playing iconic Star Wars villain Darth Vader, has sadly passed away at the age of 85.
Prowse died of a short illness according to his agent Thomas Bowington. In 2018, CNN reported that Prowse had been diagnosed and was being treated for prostate cancer. Bowington announced Prowse’s passing on his Twitter account.
“It’s with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and million of fans around the world, to announce that our client DAVE PROWSE M.B.E. has passed away at the age of 85”. Bowington then added “Though famous for playing many monsters — for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives.” Browse’s death has hit Star Wars fans, his friends, and family hit really hard as he was a great inspiration and a hero to many.
Remembering David Prowse
David Prowse was born on July 1st 1935. He was born in London, England and was raised on Bristol’s Southmead housing estate. Prowse gained his education at Bristol Grammar School where he also earned a scholarship. After finishing school Prowse did many early jobs, including being a doorman at a local dance hall, that’s where he eventually met his wife.
Due to David Prowse being tall with a height of 6’7, he started a career as a trainer. That career change eventually led Prowse into bodybuilding and even became a Weightlifting Champion in 1962. He won several weightlifting awards after that and even became good friends with former bodybuilding champion, Arnold Schwarzenegger. His success as a Weightlifting Champion eventually led David Prowse into being involved in the film industry.
In his early years, David Prowse trained star actors such as Christopher Reeve (Superman) and Cary Elwes (The Princess Pride). In the United Kingdom Prowse was well known for portraying the Green Cross Code Man. The Green Cross Code Man was a superhero created by the Green Cross Code, which was an effort by the National Road Safety Committee to raise awareness on road safety for pedestrians and help prevent vehicle accidents. Due to David Prowse inspiring portrayal of the Green Cross Code Man, he won the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award for his civil service.
Eventually due to David Prowse’s broad physique and towering figure, he was able to land movie roles. His most notable roles were often monster and villain portrayals. Some examples of Prowse’s monster roles include The Horror Of Frankenstein and Carry On Henry. Prowse also had a role as a bodyguard in Stanley Kubrick’s controversial and well-known film, A Clockwork Orange. However David Prowse’s most famous and well known role was a Sith Lord from a Galaxy Far Far Away.
David Prowse’s Legendary Performance as Darth Vader
In 1977 David Prowse landed the role of Darth Vader in George Lucas’s first Star Wars film. Prowse originally voiced Vader during filming, but Lucas wanted a deeper and menacing voice. So eventually legendary actor James Earl Jones was cast as Vader’s voice. However Prowse’s excellent physique and towering frame made Vader very intimidating physically onscreen.
After the original trilogy ended Prowse reprised his role as Vader in many Star Wars related projects. Those projects included the Star Wars: Interactive Board Game and Monopoly Star Wars. Prowse was also an honorary member and leader of the Star Wars fan and cosplay group the 501st legion in 2002.
In July of 2007, David Prowse was reunited with many of his Star Wars cast mates and crew in the very first Star Wars Celebration held at outside of the United States. This event was hosted in London and was run by Lucasfilm LTD and Cards Inc. Group. This special event was to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars. Another well known project he was involved in 2015 was a mini-documentary called The Force’s Mouth, in which he collaborated with musician Jayce Lewis and Prowse voiced Darth Vader. Prowse involvement in Star Wars lore will forever be legendary.
David Prowse’s influence and work in the film industry will never be forgotten. From his humble beginnings, body building, and to his established career as film actor, we can not deny Prowse’s greatness. He was loved by many and helped inspire aspiring bodybuilders for generations that want to transition into the film industry.
His fellow Star Wars cast member and who portrayed Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, gave his heartfelt condolence on his Twitter account. Hamill posted:
“So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader,” he wrote. Hamill then finally added “Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP”. Prowse is survived by his wife Norma Scammell and his three children.