Star Wars' Original Darth Vader Actor Dave Prowse Passes Away

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Dave Prowse Darth Vader Death

For all that the Star Wars franchise has expanded into since the turn of the millennium, including two new trilogies and a slew of expansive TV shows, none of it would have been possible without George Lucas' original trilogy that kicked off in 1977. Episode IV: A New Hope introduced a whole new world with exciting space action and intriguing characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa amongst dozens of other humans and aliens in the galaxy.

These new heroes would face off against what turned out to be one of the most beloved and revered villains in the history of movies: Darth Vader. With his mastery of the Force and his command over his armies, Vader quickly became a cinema legend as an intimidating presence throughout the entire first trilogy.

Sad news has just arrived concerning one of the men who helped bring the Sith lord to life.


BBC News has reported that David Prowse, the man who provided the physical acting for Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has passed away at age 85 after an undisclosed short illness. Prowse was a former bodybuilder who suited up as the iconic villain on screen while James Earl Jones provided Vader's voice in all three movies.


Dave Prowse had an expansive career in Hollywood spanning across 60 years, mostly taking advantage of his massive 6’6” frame to bring huge physical characters to the big screen. After Star Wars creator George Lucas spotted Prowse on the set of Clockwork Orange in 1971, Prowse was invited to audition for Chewbacca as well as Darth Vader before he took on the iconic villain role .

Even though James Earl Jones provided the classic deep voice behind the mask, Darth Vader became the most notable role of Prowse's career as he suited up in A New Hope , The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi from 1977 to 1983. It didn’t take long for Prowse's portrayal of the Sith Lord to take its place as one of the most recognizable villains of all time, and even though other actors have suited up as Vader more recently, Prowse set the stage in the 1970’s and 80’s to kick-start the franchise in a big way.

Our deepest condolences go out to Prowse's family, his loved ones, and the entire Star Wars fandom in the wake of this sad loss.

- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.