May the Force be with him–always.
David Prowse–the 6’6″ English bodybuilder and weightlifter who filled the iconic helmet and costume of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy–has passed away at the age of 85.
Prowse–who was being treated for prostate cancer, as reported by CNN–passed away after a short illness, according to his agent Thomas Bowington. “It’s with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and millions of fans around the world to announce that our client Dave Prowse has passed away,” Bowington Management announced on Twitter.
Prowse–who first strode menacingly onto Princess Leia’s spaceship in 1977’s A New Hope (then simply titled Star Wars)–certainly had the physique and presence to portray the legendary Sith Lord, but George Lucas felt his English accent didn’t fit his vision of Vader. So, as all fans know, Vader’s unmistakable voice was provided by the incredible pipes of James Earl Jones.
Prowse–who was crowned British Weightlifting Champion several times in the 1960s and was a lifelong friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger–took his talents to big screen genre roles starting in the 1970s.
Prowse played a bodyguard in the 1971 classic A Clockwork Orange, a circus strongman in 1972’s Vampire Circus, a Minotaur (also in 1972) in the Doctor Who serial The Time Monster and even Frankenstein’s Monster in two Hammer films–The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974).
All that led to George Lucas offering Prowse a choice of two roles in his fledgling Star Wars project–Darth Vader or Han Solo’s sidekick Chewbacca. The thinking behind his eventual choice? “I’ll take the villain’s part,” Prowse reportedly told Lucas. “Think back on all the movies you’ve ever seen when there’s good guys and bad guys. You always remember the bad guy.” Sound reasoning that led the towering actor into cinematic immorality.
The staff of Horror News Network extends its condolences to Prowse’s family, friends and colleagues.