Star Wars' original Darth Vader actor, David Prowse, has passed away at the age of 85, confirms his agent. The actor played Vader on set.
Star Wars' original Darth Vader actor, David Prowse, has passed away at the age of 85. The actor inhabited Vader's iconic costume on set for the original trilogy. Prowse was born on July 1, 1935 in Bristol, England. Early on, Prowse began his career in bodybuilding, going on to compete in competitions such as Mr. Universe and the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. His first film role came in 1967, when he played Frankenstein's Monster in Casino Royale. The experience led Prowse to consider a larger career within Hollywood.
Over the years, Prowse accumulated roles in films like A Clockwork Orange and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. His best known role came in 1977's Star Wars, when he first stepped into the part of Darth Vader. In fact, it was his part in A Clockwork Orange that led George Lucas to hire Prowse for Star Wars. Fans will know James Earl Jones voiced the iconic villain, but Prowse did much of the on set work for all three original films. Prowse also had a subtle hand in movies like Superman, acting as a trainer for lead actor Christopher Reeve.
Saturday night, Prowse's agent Thomas Bowington confirmed the actor has passed away (via The Guardian). No cause of death was given. In a statement, Bowington said, "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 MBE has passed away at the age of 85."
Aside from playing Darth Vader, Prowse was known in the U.K. as the Green Cross Man, a superhero invented to teach road safety to children. Prowse has said the Green Cross Man was the role he was most proud of, and in 2000, he was awarded the MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his hand in the campaign. The Green Cross Man campaign ran from 1971 to 1990.
While Prowse played Darth Vader for much of the original trilogy, his fight scenes were acted out by stuntman Bob Anderson. When the time came for Vader to finally take off his helmet in 1983's Return of the Jedi, that moment actually went to actor Sebastian Shaw instead of Prowse. Nevertheless, Prowse was a vital part of Star Wars, and his time in the role of Vader became the subject of the documentary I Am Your Father in 2015. He will surely be missed by Star Wars fans around the world, as well as those who were taught by his Green Cross Man.
R.I.P. David Prowse: July 1, 1935 - November 28, 2020