LONDON – Dave Prowse, the actor who physically portrayed Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, has died at the age of 85.
Prowse’s management company, Bowington Management, made the announcement on Twitter early Sunday morning.
“It's with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and million(s) of fans around the world, to announce that our client DAVE PROWSE M.B.E. has passed away at the age of 85,” wrote the company.
Agent Thomas Bowington told The Associated Press that Prowse died after battling a short illness.
"May the force be with him, always!" Bowington said to the BBC in a statement.
In the 1970s, the AP reports that “Star Wars” director George Lucas asked the 6-foot-6 inch tall actor to audition for Vader or the wookie Chewbacca. Prowse ended up choosing Vader, telling the BBC that “you always remember the bad guys.”
With James Earl Jones providing the voice of Vader, Prowse provided the towering frame for the black suit that brought the iconic character to life.
“Star Wars” co-star Mark Hamill reacted to the Prowse’s death on Twitter, saying he was much more than just the man who played 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
Along with his work on “Star Wars” films, Prowse made his mark on the sport of weightlifting, representing England at the Commonwealth Games in the 1950s.
Prowse was also known in the U.K. for portraying the Green Cross Code Man in public-service advertisements to help children get across the street safely. For that work, he earned an MBE in 2000. That stands for Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.