R.I.P. Dave Prowse

David “Dave” Prowse (1935-2020) has left the earth at the age of 85.

Most of us knew him pretty exclusively as the body of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy (James Earl Jones was the voice of course) and a mighty scary pantomime it was, too, every bit as effective as Charles Middleton’s Ming the Merciless, which still had the power to scare me for some reason.

But it’s a delight to learn Prowse’s other credits prior to Star Wars as well. Much like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 6′ 6″ strong man was a champion weightlifter and bodybuilder. Early in his working life he had been a bouncer at a Bristol dance hall. He played Frankenstein’s monster in Casino Royale (1967) and Hammer’s The Horror of Frankenstein (1970). He played a strong man in Vampire Circus (1972), a Minotaur on Doctor Who, a creature on Space: 1999. Other films included Up the Chastity Belt (1971), Carry On Henry (1971), A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Jabberwocky (1977), and The People That Time Forgot (1977). Parts he was up for but didn’t end up playing included Superman (though he trained Christopher Reeve), Jaws in the James Bond films, and Conan the Barbarian. Of course by 1980, he was 45 years old anyway. He had enough to do with the Star Wars job, not just with appearing in the films, but working live promotion events.

In his own country Prowse was also known as the Green Cross Man, a safety superhero, in public service announcements of the 1970s:

May the force be with, etc.