David "Dave" Prowse was born into a working class family on July 1, 1935 in Bristol, England, UK. He was raised by his mother and never knew his father. As a child, David was disadvantaged and a poor student, he found a passion for bodybuilding and weight training in his early teens, as a young adult, David often entered weightlifting competitions and contested in the famous Mr. Universe contest. Eventually, David won the British heavyweight weightlifting title and gained status as a highly regarded and respected member of the fitness community. Over this period of competitive weightlifting, David became lifelong friends with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, who at the time were not professional actors but rival competitors. After appearing on various broadcast sporting events, David was offered a role in the feature film Casino Royale (1967) as "Frankenstein's Monster". Although the casting was based on David's stature, David developed a strong interest in acting and decided to pursue it further.
From 1967 to 1977, David enjoyed a quiet, but very successful career within film and television starring in such films as A Clockwork Orange (1971), Up Pompeii (1971) and numerous Hammer House of Horror films, gaining a vast and bulky CV. In 1975, David's popularity as a respected fitness guru landed him with the role and duty of the Green Cross Code Man, a superhero designed by the British road safety committee to teach road safety to children. The persona saw David traveling the world to give talks, demonstrations and shoot short television spots based on the hero's message. Proving successful the Green Cross Code Man continued to be a side project throughout David's busy career until the 1990s. He considers this role to be of great importance, and has stated many times that it is possibly the most rewarding job he has held.
It was not until 1977 when David attended an audition for a film entitled Star Wars. The film was not considered to be a big thing at the time and the audition was held by director George Lucas. At the meeting, George offered David either the part of Chewbacca or Darth Vader. Instantly turning away the role of Chewbacca, David insisted he play the lead villain Darth Vader. George asked David why he wanted to play Vader and he replied "Everyone remembers the villain, George." David also had a wealth of experience playing villains in previous films, and was the obvious choice. David played the role of Darth Vader for the entirety of the original Star Wars trilogy: Star Wars (1977), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). Although David does not voice the character, he is the physical body. Star Wars is perhaps David's most important role and a role that has enlisted him as one of the most memorable character villains of all time.
There have been many rumors, disputes and discussions about David's relationship with Star Wars and its staff. Regarding the apparent misled information David received about Vader's voice, promotional neglect and general mistreatment from Lucasfilm. This feud resulted in David been banned from all official Star Wars events. A statement from George Lucas read "He has burnt too many bridges." David claims that a majority of the rumors in circulation regarding the topic are fabricated and false including those of respectable actors involved, and has openly admitted his support of James Earl Jones as the voice of Vader and claims Lucas film were too concerned with keeping Vader a character than letting David receive deserved credit. The topic is covered in detail, in David's autobiography "Straight from the Force's Mouth". After Star Wars, David continued to work in television and film, making numerous appearances with the legendary Benny Hill. He continued to tour as the Green Cross Code Man and became the personal fitness trainer of many celebrities including Daniel Day-Lewis and Vanessa Redgrave.
David has been loyal to Star Wars fans and participated in a number of fan-films as various characters spoofing Star Wars. Towards the end of David's busy acting period, his health declined due to a serious inflammation of arthritis, leaving David unable to stand for long periods of time and inflicting agonizing pain on his knees and hips. Undergoing treatment with hip replacement operations, it was discovered that David had prostate cancer in 2009. After a series of radiotherapy treatments at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, David made a full recovery in a remarkably short period of time. David was awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2000 Queen's Millennium Honours List for his contributions to charity and spokesmanship for road safety, the disabled and other various charities. From 2004, David began writing his autobiography entitled "Straight from the Force's Mouth" which covers his career in showbiz and documents an unedited diary account of the Star Wars production. The book was published officially in hardback by Apex Publishing in 2011, in which David toured Europe to attend book signings and personal appearances.
Over the course of his career, between acting and touring the world both as the Green Cross Code Man and David Prowse, David has trained actors for films including Christopher Reeve for Superman (1978), written fitness books "Fitness is Fun", supported charity and even became the head of fitness for superstore Harrods. David more recently spends his time attending unofficial Star Wars events, conventions and film events where he signs photos, speaks to the fans and is in high demand as a public speaker all over the world.
|Norma ?||(5 October 1963 - present) 3 children|
Towering height and muscular physique
Darth Vader in the Star Wars films
Is a former weightlifting champion.
Was the Green Cross Code Man, a character used to teach [British] children how to cross the road safely.
Owns a gym "The Dave Prowse Fitness Centre" in London, England. His brother Bob Prowse used to manage it for him before opening his own Health Club in Maidstone.
Appeared as a strongman in the famous "Wishing Well" sketch from the first season of "The Benny Hill Show" (1969), which was used by the show's American syndicator to pitch the program to U.S. television stations.
Once complained in an interview that he felt he "wasn't getting any publicity" for his work as Darth Vader.
Attended the I Central American Star Wars (1977) Convention at Guatemala City, Guatemala, on 27-28 July 2002, to talk about his character ("Darth Vader") on the first Star Wars trilogy, along with Jeremy Bulloch ("Boba Fett").
When Sebastian Shaw was revealed in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) as the "man behind Darth Vader's mask", Darth Vader became the first recurring role in a movie series to be played by three actors at the same time: body by Prowse, voice by James Earl Jones and face by Sebastian Shaw.
He was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2000 Queen's Millennium Honours List for his services to charity and road safety.
He was the special guest at the first sci-fi convention in the northwest (England) at Lancaster and Morecambe College on 3rd October 2004.
Despite the fame of Darth Vader, Prowse says that the role he is most proud of is the Green Cross Code Man.
He was barred from doing the lightsaber duels in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) because he kept breaking the poles that stood in for the laser blades during the first film. The lightsaber duels in the sequels were instead done by Bob Anderson, the swordmaster who handled the lightsaber choreography; in order to make up for the height difference, Bob Anderson wore platform shoes and was often filmed from low angles.
Prowse and James Earl Jones have never met in person.
Three clips are available on the Star Wars making of documentary DVD of Prowse speaking Darth Vader's lines.
Said that of all the directors he worked with while making the original Star Wars trilogy, Irvin Kershner, who directed Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), was his favorite. David praised Irvin Kershner in an interview for being very helpful and supportive of the actors.
Before he entered films, he was a hardworking apprentice engineer at BOAC in Bristol.
His performance as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy is ranked #84 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
Played part of the aide to Patrick Magee's character in the movie A Clockwork Orange (1971). He was chosen due to the fact that he was able to lift and carry the wheelchair-bound Magee. He said that the director was not known as "one-take Kubrick" and he had to repeat the scene multiple times. At one point, the shooting was halted because the recording technician said that there was a strange noise in the last take. This was discovered to be due to a microphone that was on David and picking up his accelerated heartbeat and heavier breathing.
In Casino Royale (1967), he plays a character known only as "Sir". He looks like Frankenstein's Creature, but is never called or credited as such. "Sir" is only in the film a few seconds.
Diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2009. Announced in February 2010 that he had made a full recovery following intensive radio therapy at a London hospital.
Has a passion for motorcycles and in his early career owned many.
[on having to choose between playing Darth Vader and Chewbacca in "Star Wars"]: I took the part of the villain because everyone remembers the villain.
[on his work as the Green Cross Code Man]: "Best job I've ever had."
[Asked if during the making of the original Star Wars trilogy at any point, did he feel claustrophobic due to the mask and suit completely covering his whole body while at Collectormania 10 at Milton Keynes] "The suit was made to fit and was very, very comfortable, so no I didn't feel at all claustrophobic, but the only problem I did experience was that in the mask I got very, very hot!"
(2010) On his fight with prostate cancer: "I've won the fight and I'm feeling better than ever. Everyone was shocked by how well it all (treatment) went".
(February 2004) Currently lives in Croydon, Surrey, England
(May 2005) Attending Collectormania 7 at Milton Keynes
(November 2009) Celebrity attraction at Toys4BigBoys in Dublin, Ireland.
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