David Prowse, The Actor Who Played Darth Vader, Dies Aged 85
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David Prowse, The Actor Who Played Darth Vader, Dies Aged 85

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BY November 29, 2020

When we think of Darth Vader, we often do so in the iconic voice of James Earl Jones. However, another actor first brought the Sith Lord to life. David Prowse, who played Darth Vader on the set, passed away this week at the age of 85. From Bristol, England, David Prowse made his mark on the world long before he donned the armor of the dark lord. He and his brother dedicated their lives to physical fitness. When they opened their family chain of gyms, personal fitness training was still a very new business. However, it was his imposing physique that inspired George Lucas to bring him in to audition for Vader and Chewbacca. Prowse often said he chose the Vader role, because kids better remember the bad guys.

However, even without Darth Vader on his résumé, David Prowse would be well remembered. Along with his pioneering personal training business, Prowse found himself drawn to film production. Prowse worked with Christopher Reeve, helping the Juilliard-trained thespian bulk up to play Superman in Richard Donner’s film. He appeared as a menacing bodyguard in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (where Lucas, reportedly, first saw him). He appeared in other genre classics like Doctor Who, the Hammer film series, and other cult classics. Also, from his time as a weightlifter, he became friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. Yup, just Darth Vader chilling with the Terminator and the Hulk.

Prowse reportedly passed away after “a short illness.”

As the BBC reports:

“Prowse…was most proud of playing the Green Cross Code Man. The role, promoting road safety in the UK, earned him an MBE.

“’May the force be with him, always!’ said his agent Thomas Bowington. ‘Though famous for playing many monsters – for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives.’”

The Green Cross Man was a public safety superhero, costume and all, who would warn kids about being careful in the street. “Stop, look, and listen,” was his slogan. Along with a series of television and radio public service announcements, Prowse would also meet with kids in person at events.

David Prowse wrote an autobiography, titled Straight from the Force’s Mouth, in 2011. Mark Hamill and others in the industry took to Twitter to share their memories of the man.


What do you think? Share your thoughts, reactions, and memories in the comments below.

Featured image via PA Media

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

Darth VaderDavid ProwseStar Wars

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