We have some very sad news to report this weekend as Star Wars star David Prowse has passed away. According to his agent Thomas Bowington, Prowse died early on Saturday morning after battling a short illness. He was 85 years old.
"May the force be with him, always!" said Bowington in a statement. "Though famous for playing many monsters - for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives."
Mark Hamill, who co-starred with Prowse in the Star Wars series, also addressed the passing of the actor on Twitter. He writes, "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."
A veteran performer with a variety of movie roles, Prowse is perhaps best known for playing the iconic villain Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. A hulking bodybuilder that stood at 6'6", Prowse was cast in part due to his imposing frame, though James Earl Jones voiced the character as Prowse's West Country accent didn't fit the part. Initially, Prowse was also offered the part of Chewbacca, though he opted to play Darth Vader because "you always remember the bad guys."
In his later years, Prowse spent a lot of time meeting fans at sci-fi conventions. It is rumored that he had a falling out with George Lucas and stopped attending official Star Wars conventions, though he remained very in demand with fans. He announced that he was retiring from making any more public appearances in 2016, citing ill health and the wishes of his family.
Prowse is also well known for playing various types of monsters. He made his movie debut in 1967 by appearing as Frankenstein's Creation in the James Bond spoof Casino Royale; he'd reprise the role in the Hammer horror movies Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. He also appeared as a minotaur in the Doctor Who episode "The Time Monster" alongside Jon Pertwee. He was also featured as a creature in the sci-fi series Space: 1999.
Still, the actor said he was most proud of playing the Green Cross Code Man, a role he first started to portray in 1975. Wearing a white and green superhero suit, the character was the face of British road safety for many years, often uttering the catchphrase, "Stop, look and listen." Prowse would later refer to the character as the "best job I ever had."
In 2015, Prowse was also the subject of the documentary I Am Your Father. Directed by Marcos Cabota and Toni Bestard, the movie focuses on Prowse's life decades after appearing as Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. The filmmakers sought to reshoot scenes from the trilogy to prove that Prowse should have been the one featured when the character was unmasked in Return of the Jedi. They also hoped the movie would help bring more recognition to Prowse, who was relatively obscure compared to Jones and his Star Wars contemporaries.
Our condolences go out to Prowse's family at this difficult time. As such an integral part of one of cinema history's most important franchises, Prowse will forever remain a legend and will always be remembered. Rest in peace. This news comes to us from BBC News.