Dave Prowse (MBE), the Bristolian Star Wars actor behind Darth Vader in the original trilogy, has passed away at age 85.
While the iconic voice of the Sith Lord was provided by James Earl Jones, his gait and intimidating posture comes from the former weightlifter in Prowse.
Dave Prowse: A Hero Behind The Villain
Thomas Bowington, the late actor’s agent, confirmed his passing in a statement this morning.
“Though famous for playing many monsters – for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives.”
He added that it was “a truly and deeply heart-wrenching loss for us and millions of fans all over the world.”
Both the BBC and Mirror had also noted Prowse’s heroic acts outside of the blockbuster movies. In 1975, he took on the role of the Green Cross Code Man to promote road safety in the United Kingdom. For over 10 years, his role as this green and white superhero became central in the promotion of British road safety. Playing the Green Cross Code Man eventually earned Prowse an MBE.
On the big screen, Dave Prowse was known for his unique physical presence. Standing at 6’6”, Prowse had the perfect physique to play one of the most iconic villains in cinema history. According to the BBC, Prowse was discovered by Star Wars creator George Lucas after he played a bodyguard in the 1971 film Clockwork Orange. He subsequently auditioned for both Darth Vader and Chewbacca, eventually opting for the former as fans “always remember the bad guys.”
Although many Star Wars fans will remember him as being the actor behind the legendary Darth Vader, Prowse considered playing the Green Cross Code Man as the “best job [he] ever had.”
Prowse grew up in Bristol and lived his later years in Croydon as a “loving husband, father, and grandfather.”