David Charles Prowse was born in Bristol England on July 1st 1935. His family were working class, but being academically gifted he won a scholarship to attend Bristol Grammar School.
In 1962 David won the British Heavyweight Weightlifting Championship in what would be the first of three successive wins. In the same year he would also represent England in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games.
He started acting in 1967 with a small unaccredited role, Frankenstein’s Creation, in 1967’s Casino Royale; a role he would also later play in 1970’s The Horror of Frankenstein and 1974’s Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. Through the 1970’s he continued to pickup work, which included playing Julian in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
1977 sure David appear as the role he would be best remembered for the body of Darth Vader. Physically he lent the role and imposing presence, something in later years Hayden Christensen would struggle to do. George Lucas was less impressed with Prowse’s West Country accent and would replace all David’s dialogue with James Earl Jones deep tones. Despite his initial annoyance at this he would go on to play the body of Vader for the two sequels.
In the UK he is also fondly remembered for being The Green Cross Code Man. For nearly two decades his appearances in adverts and school visits helped teach multiple generations the importance of road safety. To grab the attention of the children during his talks he would often bring a Darth Vader mask to the stage with him.
In 1978 he lost out on the role of Superman to Christopher Reeve. David was however asked to help train Reeve for the role. So began a decade of, as well as being an actor, being a personal trainer to actors needing to bulk-up for a role. This included Cary Elwes for his role as Westley in the Princess Bride.
Mainly due to the popularity of Star Wars he became a mainstay on the Comic-Con circuit. Noted as being friendly and chatty with fans he was always a popular draw. In later years this once bodybuilder started to look a little frail. This, along with an illness, led to him retiring from being a media guest in the last few years of his life.
David Prowse will be missed by millions of Star Wars fans the world over. He lent Darth Vader a domineering screen presence, which has led to the character becoming one of the most loved villains in popular culture.
He will be missed.