David Prowse, the actor who played the imposing figure Darth Vader in the Stars Wars movies, has died. He was 85.
David Prowse Has Passed Away
“It is with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and millions of fans around the world to announce that our client DAVID PROWSE M.B.E. has passed away,” posted the Bowington Management talent firm on Twitter.
A bodybuilder and weightlifter, Prowse stood an imposing 6’7”. He passed away on Saturday morning after a brief illness. In addition to the Star Wars films, Prowse played the towering Frankenstein Monster in a trio of films: Casino Royale (1967), The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), and the Monster From Hell (1974).
While Prowse will always be associated with playing arguably film’s greatest villain, he also had a hand in helping to bring to life the movie world’s greatest hero by helping a slim Christopher Reeve improve his physique after he was cast as Clark Kent and his super-hero alter-ego in Superman (1978).
A native of Bristol England, Prowse was born on July 1, 1935. He competed for the title of Mr. Universe in the bodybuilding world. His acting credits on the small screen included roles on The Saint, Doctor Who, and The Beverly Hillbillies. In 1979, he appeared on the soap opera The Edge of Night as the character Albert.
Star Wars director, who’d seen Prowse appear in A Clockwork Orange, offered him one of two roles in Star Wars. “Lucas said to me, ‘You’ve got a choice of two characters in the movie,” Prowse recollected in 2016. “He said, ‘There’s a character called Chewbacca, which is like a huge teddy bear, or alternatively, there’s the main villain in the piece.’ Well, there’s no choice, is there? Thank you very much, I’ll have the villain’s piece.”
Prowse recalled in his 2005 memoir, Straight From the Force’s Mouth, that Darth Vader’s outfit was cumbersome and he was virtually blind once he put on the character’s helmet. Still, none of that impeded Prowse’s ability to bring an intimidating presence to the Star Wars villain.
Instead of dubbing his voice later, Lucas opted to cast James Earl Jones as the voice of Vader. “I think [Jones] did a wonderful job, but I still think I would have done equally as well given the right opportunity,” said Prowse.
Prowse reprised Vader in both The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). While another actor’s face was used when Vader’s mask was finally removed, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) tweeted in June 2018: “A-David Prowse IS Darth Vader. B-James Earl Jones is his voice. C-Bob Anderson is his stunt-double. D-Hayden Christensen is my son’s age. #HowIMetMyDads.”
Hamill also paid tribute to Prowse upon learning of his death: “So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader. 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 was married since 1963 to Norma Scammell and had three children. Entertainment Hub sends condolences to Prowse’s family at this difficult time.
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. #DaveProwse @starwars #DarthVader #GreenCrossCodeMan #iconic #actor #bodybuilder #MBE pic.twitter.com/dL2RmdIqg8
— Bowington Management (@BowingtonM) November 29, 2020
So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader. 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 pic.twitter.com/VbDrGu6iBz
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) November 29, 2020
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 18, 2018