David Prowse, the British actor best known for playing Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, died on Saturday at the age of 85, after falling ill, his agents confirmed.
“It is with great regret and heartbreaking sadness for us and millions of fans around the world to announce that our client Dave Prowse MBE has passed away at the age of 85,” tweeted Bowington Management, from Prowse’s agents, on Sunday.
Prowse was born in 1935. He won the British weightlifting championship in 1962 and represented England in the weightlifting category at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane that same year.
Prowse played Frankenstein’s monster in “Casino Royale” (1967) and again in “The Horror of Frankenstein” (1970) and “Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell” (1974). He played a bodyguard in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), where George Lucas saw him. He auditioned for Darth Vader and Chewbacca and eventually landed the role of Lord Sith. However, his accent was considered inappropriate for the role and, although he played the part physically, the voice was made by James Earl Jones.
In 1975, he became an integral part of British culture when he played the “Green Cross Code Man”, a superhero invented to promote a British road safety campaign for children. His long association with the campaign earned him the honor of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2000.
Prowse will be best remembered for being the man behind Darth Vader’s mask in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977), “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi ”(1983) In his later years, he was a well-known figure in the“ Star Wars ”conventions.
His memoir “Straight from the Force’s Mouth” was published in 2011. The story of his life was told in a 2015 documentary entitled “I Am Your Father”.