David Prowse, the man who brought Darth Vader to life in the original Star Wars films, is dead at 85. The actor who first wore Vader’s suit died Saturday, as reported by his management team and later confirmed by multiple outlets. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Prowse died early Sunday morning at age 85.
David Prowse, the champion English weightlifter and bodybuilder who supplied his 6-foot-7 frame — but not the voice or the deep breathing — to portray Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, died early in the morning on Saturday. He was 85.
Prowse’s death was confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter by his agent Thomas Bowington on Saturday night. The company also wrote on Twitter, “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.”
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. #DaveProwse @starwars #DarthVader #GreenCrossCodeMan #iconic #actor #bodybuilder #MBE pic.twitter.com/dL2RmdIqg8
— Bowington Management (@BowingtonM) November 29, 2020
Prowse gave one of the most famous movie characters ever his physical presence, while James Earl Jones famous gave Vader his voice. But Prowse was a fixture of Star Wars fandom even in his later years, often posing with those who made their own Vader costumes to wear to conventions and expos.
Mark Hamill, who played his (spoilers!) on-screen son Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films, tweeted his condolences early Sunday morning, sharing images of Prowse and calling him a “kind man” and “much more” than Darth Vader.
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. #RIP pic.twitter.com/VbDrGu6iBz
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) November 29, 2020
C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels also commented on the loss, noting that while their characters never quite squared off, Prowse was a pivotal figure in what made the movie villain so powerful.
More sad news. Dave has gone. 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.
— Anthony Daniels (@ADaniels3PO) November 29, 2020
Prowse had many other acting roles over his career, using his hulking frame to play characters in James Bond’s Casino Royale, Frankenstein in The Horror Of Frankenstein and Monster From Hell. He also played a role in A Clockwork Orange. But his work as Darth Vader will be what he’s remembered for best by millions of fans for whom his on-screen presence is unmistakable.