United Kingdom

Dave Prowse: Darth Vader actor dies aged 85

British actor David "Dave" Prowse, who played Darth Vader in all three of the original Star Wars movies, has died aged 85.

The weightlifter-turned-actor, who also earned an MBE for playing the Green Cross Code Man to promote road safety, died after a short illness, his agent Thomas Bowington said in a Facebook post.

"May the force be with him, always!" Mr Bowington wrote.

"Though famous for playing many monsters - for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives."

Mr Bowington called the actor's death "a truly and deeply heart-wrenching loss for us and millions of fans all over the world".

Prowse represented England in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games in the early 1960s before embarking on an acting career.

He was reportedly spotted by Star Wars director George Lucas when playing a bodyguard in the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, and invited to audition for the roles of Darth Vader and Chewbacca.

He once told the BBC he chose Vader over his hairy co-star because "you always remember the bad guys".

Even though the six ft 6 former bodybuilder was cast as the imposing villain all of his lines were re-recorded by the American James Earl Jones.

The Bristolian was reportedly nicknamed 'Darth Farmer' by his late Star Wars co-star Carrie Fisher, because of his strong West Country accent.

The actor, who played the monster in three of Hammer's Frankenstein adaptations, brought an imposing physicality to his Vader.

But while fans might be familiar with his distinctive stride and fist clench, Prowse's face never appears in any of the Star Wars films.

For the climactic unmasking scene in Return of the Jedi, the filmmakers made the decision to cast Sebastian Shaw, who also appears at the end of the film as a force ghost. 

Prowse was a familiar face on UK television for decades with roles in Doctor Who, The Two Ronnies, The Kenneth Williams Show and The Morecambe & Wise Show.

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