Star Wars and Green Cross Code actor Dave Prowse dies aged 85

Dave Prowse, the Bristol actor who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died aged 85.

Sunday, 29th November 2020, 9:06 am
Updated Sunday, 29th November 2020, 9:12 am
English actor Dave Prowse as the Green Cross Man for a road safety campaign aimed at children promoting 'The Green Cross Code' in the 1970s.

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.

Prowse won the role playing Vader due to his impressive 6ft 6in physique, but with his West Country accent deemed not quite suitable, the part was instead voiced by James Earl Jones.

“May the force be with him, always!” Mr Bowington said in a statement to the BBC.

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Actor David Prowse MBE attending the funeral service of Star Wars actor Kenny Baker on August 24, 2016 in Lytham St Annes

“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, after a short illness, “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”.

Film director Edgar Wright described him as the man who “stopped a whole generation of kiddies from being mown down in the street”.

“As a kid Dave Prowse couldn’t be more famous to me; stalking along corridors as evil incarnate in the part of Darth Vader & stopping a whole generation of kiddies from being mown down in street as the Green Cross Code man. Rest in Peace, Bristol’s finest.”

The Twitter account of the Peter Mayhew Foundation, set up in memory of the actor who played Chewbacca, shared a picture of Prowse with Mayhew and their co-star Kenny Baker.

“RIP Dave Prowse. I hope you’re up there sharing a pint and a story with the boys. #DarthVader #DaveProwse #RIPDaveProwse #StarWars.”

Mayhew died in 2019 and Baker, who played R2-D2, died in 2016.