It has been announced that David Prowse, who appeared in the original Star Wars trilogy, has passed away aged 85. Courageous Nerd looks at Prowse’s life and career.
David Prowse, the bodybuilder who starred in three Star Wars films, has died at 85 years of age. Standing at 6’6, Prowse hailed from Bristol, England where he had previously worked as a bouncer. He won the British heavyweight weightlifting championship in 1962, 1963 and 1964.
But undoubtedly his biggest claim to fame was his role as Darth Vader,. physically portraying the character for the original trilogy. The Hollywood Reporter revealed that although Prowse was originally offered the role of lovable Wookiee, Chewbacca, he preferred Vader. Instead, the Chewbacca role went to the late Peter Mayhew.
Casual fans of Star Wars may be unaware that it actually took three primary actors to bring Darth Vader to life. While Prowse was inside the suit, he did not provide Vader’s iconic voice. That was James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in The Lion King. Nor was Prowse’s face shown as the unmasked Vader; instead, actor Sebastian Shaw was used to portray the redeemed Anakin Skywalker.
While Prowse possessed suitable physical attributes, his strong accent did not suit George Lucas’ vision for Darth Vader’s voice. Having been famously nicknamed ‘Darth Farmer’, this forced the director and Star Wars creator to look elsewhere for an alternative voice.
Aside from Darth Vader, another of Prowse’s major career accomplishments was training then 24-year-old Christopher Reeve in the role of Superman for the latter’s first film, released in 1978. Prowse had originally campaigned to play the Kryptonian superhero himself, only to be turned down.
Similarly, Prowse trained actor and fellow Englishman Cary Elwes for his role as Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts in comedy fantasy adventure, The Princess Bride (1987) – which also starred Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, and Andre The Giant.
The late Prowse leaves behind his wife, Norma E. Scammell, to whom he was married since 1963, as well as three children.
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