The death of David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has led to a number of tributes to the English actor and his contribution to the franchise.
Prowse passed away yesterday at the age of 85 after a short illness, and it’s now been revealed via family that COVID-19 was one of the complicating factors. Given the impact that the virus has had on the elderly across the UK, the performer is sadly just one of many whose health was severely affected this year.
Speaking to the press, Prowse’s daughter Rachel explained that he’d been hospitalized for the past two weeks, meaning they were unable to see him and say their goodbyes. The former bodybuilder was also suffering from Alzheimer’s, making it even more tragic that COVID-19 restrictions prevented family visits, and there will now need to be a delay before arranging a large memorial service. However, Rachel did note the impact her father had on his carers, saying:
“It’s horrible that Covid restrictions meant we did not get to see him and say goodbye. But when we went to collect his stuff from the hospital the nurse said what a cool guy he was. He was such a larger-than-life character. He would have loved to see himself trending on Twitter.”
Prowse was born in Bristol in 1935, and at 6 foot 6 inches tall represented an imposing figure who’d later add power to Darth Vader’s physique. As a bodybuilder, he became the British heavyweight weightlifting champion for the first time in 1962, before going on to play extensive supporting roles in many films and TV shows. In addition, he was also well known as the Green Cross Code Man, a superhero created to promote road safety.
Cast as the body of Vader in Star Wars, with James Earl Jones providing the voice, Prowse made much of the performance throughout his career, despite a strained relationship with Lucasfilm in his later years. Still, George Lucas and Mark Hamill have been among those paying tribute to his part in bringing the first incarnation of Darth Vader to life in the aforementioned movie and its two initial sequels.