On Sunday, Star Wars actor Dave Prowse died at the age of 85 after contracting COVID-19. The competitive bodybuilder was spotted by George Lucas in a bit part in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and offered the choice of playing Chewbacca or Vader. Prowse picked the latter as “everyone remembers the villain.” It proved to be a good decision, too, as Darth Vader has gone on to become the most iconic cinematic baddie of all time.
Despite James Earl Jones providing the onscreen voice, Prowse’s physical performance assured him lifelong fame and a permanent connection with a galaxy far, far away. Now, some enterprising citizen of Bristol, England has commemorated the actor by placing a statue of Vader on top of a plinth in the city center where Prowse was born, brought up and educated.
What’s notable is that this wasn’t placed on just any plinth. Up until this year, it featured a controversial statue of slave trader Edward Colston, which was torn from its base and dumped in a nearby harbour by Black Lives Matter protestors. Good riddance I say, and a tribute to Prowse would be a fine permanent replacement.
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Of course, this unofficial memorial isn’t likely to stay for long (it’s obviously a bit small) and if there is to be a statue of Prowse, it should be him as the Green Cross Man, the public safety superhero he played in a famous series of British PSAs. He was given an MBE by the Queen to honor his hard work, which apparently consisted of making in-person appearances at schools most weekdays for fourteen years. Prowse later commented that this was the role he was proudest of, saying:
“Many people will know me for being the ultimate screen villain, Star Wars’ Darth Vader. But being a “goodie goodie” and heading up the Green Cross Code campaign, helping to save thousands of lives has always been the ultimate honour.”
There’s currently a petition underway to make this a reality, so if you’re a Star Wars fan, why not pop your name on it to show some support for the man under the armor?