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Actor David Prowse (1935-2020)


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The British actor David Prowse, a onetime competitive weightlifter and bodybuilder who provided the impressive physical presence of Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" movie series, has died at the age of 85. He shared the role of the villain with the American actor James Earl Jones, who contributed the character's formidable voice.

 Prowse's agent Thomas Bowington, who  told the BBC that the actor died after a short illness, added that the development  was  "a truly and deeply heart-wrenching loss for us and millions of fans all over the world."   

CNN reported in 2018 that Prowse was being treated for prostate cancer.

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In 2004, the American Film Institute ranked the the top heroes and villains in movie history. Darth Vader was the No. 3 heavy behind Dr. Hannibal Lecter of 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs" (at No. 1) and Norman Bates of Sir Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller "Psycho" (at No. 2). 

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Born on July 1, 1935 in Bristol, England, Prowse had hopes of becoming a rugby player. But a bout with tuberculosis of the knee as a young teenager changed his plans. He became interested in bodybuilding in the 1960s.  The 6-foot-7 Prowse became Britain's Heavyweight Weightlifting Champion from 1962 to 1965. He later competed in the Mr. Universe contest with two other future actors -- Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. 

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In 1967, Prowse made his screen debut as Frankenstein's Monster in the spy spoof "Casino Royale" which is not considered a part of the "official James Bond" movie series. The film had five credited directors (Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish and Val Guest) and one who was uncredited (Richard Talmadge). The cast featured David Niven (as Sir James Bond), Ursula Andress, Peter Sellers, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Joanna Pettet, Daliah Lavi, Deborah Kerr, William Holden, Charles Boyer, George Raft, Barbara Bouchet and Jacqueline Bisset. Prowse also played The Creature in the Hammer films "The Horror of Frankenstein" (1970) and "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell" (1974). 

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Prowse appeared in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 futuristic tale "A Clockwork Orange" as a muscular manservant named Julian opposite Malcolm McDowell's once sadistic gang leader, Alex. George Lucas saw Prowse in the film and offered him a chance to play either Darth Vader or the Wookiee Chewbacca in "Star Wars." He later told a  BBC  reporter that he chose Vader because "you always remember the bad guys".

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A helmet-less Prowse with Peter Cushing, Lucas and Carrie Fisher during the 1976 filming of "Star Wars." Prowse reportedly found out after the film was released in 1977 that his voice had been dubbed by Jones. 

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Also in the 1970s, Prowse became known for his multimedia appearances as The Green Code Cross Man, who preached road safety to children in the United Kingdom. He also made many personal appearances at schools and other settings. For his efforts, he was awarded an MBE in 2000, making him a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

The Green Cross Code of Networking | Business Tips | JournoLink

Thanks to the universal  success of the "Star Wars" films, Prowse became a familiar face at comics/sci-fi conventions. He signed autographs during the opening day of Star Wars Celebration IV in Los Angeles in May 2007.

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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
 
 
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Incredibly sad to hear Dave Prowse has passed. It was a great gift to work with him and an honor to call him my friend
 
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#RIPDaveProwse #StarWars
 

 

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.
 

 

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RIP David Prowse. That stature contributed so much to Darth Vader’s legend. #BePeace
 
 

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David Prowse as Darth Vader was BRILLIANT. He was so unbelievably magical in that suit. I’ve watched Empire so many times with the sound off just to watch how he moved. His physical choices were as iconic as James’ voice to me & aside from all of that he was such a nice man. RIP
 
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