David Prowse, best known for playing the original Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies, has passed away on Sunday, his management company announced. He was 85.
Prowse suffered from Alzheimer’s. According to his daughter, he had been in the hospital for two weeks. He passed away due to coronavirus complications.
“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,” Bowington Management said on Twitter Sunday.
David played the role of Frankenstein’s monster in Casino Royale (1967) which marked his debut, and the Hammer horrors The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974).
Prowse also appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s classic dystopian crime film A Clockwork Orange (1971) which many consider as his breakthrough role. In the film, he played as gang member and Frank Alexander’s manservant and bodyguard Julian. It is in this role that he was noticed by George Lucas, who wrote and directed the Star Wars films. He was originally offered two parts, the first one was that of Chewbacca before eventually landing the role of the iconic villain Darth Vader.
As Darth Vader in Star Wars, Prowse wore the iconic black suit and helmet while actor James Earl Jones provided the voice. Standing at a staggering height of 6’7”, Prowse’s physicality made him appear instantly threatening and provides a striking contrast to the rest of the cast and characters in the trilogy.
“I said I wasn’t too interested because I didn’t want to wear a mask. I wanted to play a part where people could see my face.” David said about the role of Chewbacca. “But I never realized the villain would also be wearing a mask!”
“David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character,” Star Wars creator George Lucas said in a statement posted on StarWars.com. “He made Vader leap off the page and on to the big screen, with an imposing stature and movement performance to match 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.”
A bodybuilder and weightlifting champion, Prowse also had a hand in helping Christopher Reeves achieve his physique for the 1978 superhero film by Richard Donner “Superman”, having trained Reeves for six weeks. “He was fantastic. He was a very lovely person,” Prowse said of Reeve. “We were like brothers, we got along so well together. And during the course of the period I had him, I took him from 170 pounds when we started and he was 212 [pounds] when he went into the suit.”