David Prowse, the British actor most widely known as the man beneath the Darth Vader suit in the original “Star Wars” trilogy films, died on Saturday at the age of 85 after battling an illness.
“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,” Prowse’s agents Bowington Management tweeted on Sunday.
Other fans and cast members took to Twitter to pay tribute to Prowse, including Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill (“He was a kind man and much more than Darth Vader”) to “Star Wars” superfan Edgar Wright, who wrote, “As a kid Dave Prowse couldn’t be more famous to me; stalking along corridors as evil incarnate in the part of Darth Vader & stopping a whole generation of kiddies from being mown down in street as the Green Cross Code man. Rest in Peace, Bristol’s finest.”
“It was a great gift to work with him and an honor to call him my friend,” Billy Dee Williams wrote. “The Mandalorian” cast member Rosario Dawson, and “Star Trek” lead William Shatner, also paid tribute. See below.
Born in 1935, Prowse was a weightlifting champion in his early days, winning the British championship in 1962 and representing England at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane that year.
Other film roles leading up to “Star Wars” included Frankenstein’s monster in 1967’s “Casino Royale,” and again “The Horror of Frankenstein” in 1970 and “Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell” in 1974. He had a small role in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” in 1971, which earned the attention of George Lucas, who reportedly auditioned Prowse for both the roles of Darth Vader and Chewbacca before Prowse eventually went to the Darkside. Because of Prowse’s accent, however, the voice was performed by James Earl Jones.
Prowse had another major spotlight in British culture beginning in 1975 with his debut as “Green Cross Cod Man,” a superhero starring in a British road safety campagin for kids. In 2000, he earned the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award.
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