Darth Vader actor David Prowse has died aged 85

The actor, who portrayed one of cinema's most iconic villains, has passed away following a short illness

David Prowse, the former bodybuilder best known for his role as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died aged 85.

Announcing the news on Twitter this morning (November 29), Prowse’s agent Thomas Bowington wrote: “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.”

“Though famous for playing many monsters – for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives,” Bowington added. “May the force be with him, always!”

The actor, who passed away following a short illness, donned the suit of Darth Vader in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return Of The Jedi. Although the Bristolian was originally set to voice the iconic villain as well, famously, his Westcountry accent was deemed unsuitable, with James Earl Jones eventually voicing the role.

Though Prowse’s acting career spanned 50 years, including appearances in Doctor Who, A Clockwork Orange, and 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale, he became synonymous with the towering presence of Vader.

David Prowse
Credit: Colin Davey/Evening Standard/Getty Images

Prior to his acting work, Prowse represented England in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games in the early 1960s. Many also remember him as the ‘The Green Cross Code Man’, a character invented to promote a British road safety campaign for children in 1975.

Mark Hamill shared one of the most famous scenes in film history with Prowse while playing the role of Luke Skywalker, and was one of many to pay tribute this morning. The actor tweeted: “So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader.

“Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him.”

Carl Weathers, who currently plays Greef Karga in the Star Wars-spinoff series The Mandalorian, said that Prowse’s “stature contributed so much to Darth Vader’s legend.”

Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson shared a light-hearted story about meeting the actor in his school days: “Met David Prowse when he came to our school as The Green Cross Code Man. My mate Graham showed him around the school. We couldn’t believe it. Fuckin Darth Vader.

“Afterwards he shook my hand at the school gates whilst looking thoroughly bored, his driver ushering him away. RIP.”

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