It was reported early this morning that British actor/weight lifter/humanitarian David Prowse has passed away. He was 85. He portrayed Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.
The news was reported by his management company. His agent, Thomas Bowington stated he passed away after a short illness. It was also reported in 2018 Prowse had a bout with prostate cancer.
“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 Management said on Twitter Sunday.
“May the force be with him, always!” his former agent, Thomas Bowington, said in a statement to the BBC. “Though famous for playing many monsters — for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives.”
Prowse is best known for playing inside the Darth Vader suit for the first three original Star Wars films. James Earl Jones provided the voice for Vader but Prowse was the physical presence.
Notable to genre fans is that he portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in three separate projects. His first portrayal of the monster was in 1967’s Casino Royale. His final two were for the prestigious British Hammer Film Studio. The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974).
Additionally, Prowse appeared in another Hammer film, only not as the Frankenstein’s monster. He appeared in Vampire Circus (1972) as the strongman.
He had roles in numerous other films and television shows of the era including, The Beverly Hillbillies (TV Series) (1968), The Saint (TV Series) (1969), Doctor Who (TV Series) (1972), The Tomorrow People (TV Series) (1973), Little House on the Prairie (TV Series) (1975), Space: 1999 (TV Series) (1976), The Benny Hill Show (TV Series) (1984), and several more.
As for film, he had parts in Hammerhead (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Jabberwocky (1977), The People That Time Forgot (1977), and others.
It is said that Prowse was most proud of his role as the Green Cross Code Man for a British road safety campaign. He was awarded an MBE — a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire — in 2000 for that role.
Prowse was born into a working class family and grew up in a council estate in Southmead, in southwestern England. He gained a scholarship to attend Bristol Grammar School.
He had a passion for bodybuilding and was crowned British Weightlifting Champion several times in the 1960s. He became lifelong friends with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger in his weightlifting years.
Health and fitness were always a priority for Prowse. In later years he worked as a personal trainer for Christopher Reeve on his Superman films.
David Prowse’s physical incarnation as Darth Vader will live on in cinematic history for all eternity. He will be greatly missed.
R.I.P. David Prowse Born July 1, 1935 – Died November 28, 2020