David Prowse, who portrayed Darth Vader in the original Star Wars movies to become a household name, has died at 85, the actor’s family and management team confirmed on Saturday evening. Prowse had immortalized Vader. Prowse’s agent Thomas Bowington told the BBC, that his demise is a truly and deeply heart-wrenching loss for them as well as millions of fans across the world.
George Lucas, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Warwick Davis, and more paid tributes the actor who memorialized Darth Vader.
Star Wars creator George Lucas said in a statement on Sunday that David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was needed for the role. He made Vader leap off the page and on to the big screen, with an awe-inspiring stature and movement performance to complement the intensity and undercurrent of Vader’s presence. David was up for anything and contributed to the success of what would become a memorable, tragic figure. May he rest in peace.
Prowse left an indelible mark as Darth Vader in the hearts of millions after featuring in the original Star Wars film trilogy that included A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. It is said that Prowse was given alternate lines to mouth in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi so the big disclosure in the movies could be kept secret.
Due to his clear UK accent, his voice was dismissed as inappropriate for the character of the intimidating sci-fi villain, so actor James Earl Jones dubbed his dialogues.
Prowse was also prominent for his performance as UK road safety character Green Cross Code Man, who reminded kids to stop, look and listen prior to crossing a street. This role fetched him the coveted award Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Prowse’s long career included unforgettable roles in the films A Clockwork Orange, Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, apart from the TV shows The Saint, Space 1999 and Doctor Who.
He released his autobiography Straight from the Force’s Mouth in 2011.
Fellow Star Wars actor Mark Hamill tweeted on Sunday “So sad to hear David Prowse has passed”. “He was a kind man and much more than Darth Vader … He loved his fans as much as they loved him.”
Star Wars actor Billy Dee Williams tweeted his condolences too.”Incredibly sad to hear Dave Prowse has passed. It was a great gift to work with him and an honour to call him my friend.”
Actor Anthony Daniels, who enacted protocol droid C-3PO in the Star Wars movies also tweeted about Prowse’s passing. “More sad news; Dave has gone” Daniels tweeted. “I don’t think 3PO ever faced Vader’s mighty presence on set, other than as a bag of bits on Chewie’s shoulders in the carbon freezer. But Dave’s iconic figure dominated the finished film in ’77 and has done so ever since. And will continue to do so.”
Actor Warwick Davis, who depicted Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, tweeted his thoughts about Prowse as well. “So sad to hear of the passing of a Star Wars family member, Dave Prowse” Davis tweeted. “He taught me to cross the road safely Green X Code & a signed Darth Vader poster from him took pride of place on my bedroom wall. To the 11-year-old me he was a true hero. Now one with the Force. RIP Dave Prowse.”
Young Boba Fett actor Daniel Logan paid tributes as well. “Sad to hear of the passing of a Star Wars family member – RIP Dave Prowse,” Logan tweeted. “Darth Vader wouldn’t be the same without you in the costume.” Star Wars fans took to social media to pay tribute to Prowse and his legacy.