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David Prowse dead – Darth Vader actor, 85, died of coronavirus after two-week hospital battle


DARTH Vader actor Dave Prowse died of corona­virus, his daughter said yesterday.

The 6ft 6in former body-builder played the legendary villain in the original Star Wars films.

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Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse has died of coronavirus

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Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse has died of coronavirusCredit: Kobal Collection – Rex Features

The Bristol-born star — also road safety superhero The Green Cross Man — had been in a London hospital for two weeks with Covid. He was 85.

Luke Skywalker star Mark Hamill, 69, tweeted: “So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader.

Actor, Husband, Father, Member of the Order of the British Empire, three-time British Weightlifting Champion and Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man.

“He loved his fans as much as they loved him.”

Dave was also known as TV's Green Cross Code Man

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Dave was also known as TV’s Green Cross Code ManCredit: Rex Features
He died in hospital on Saturday aged 85

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He died in hospital on Saturday aged 85Credit: SWNS:South West News Service
The 6ft 6in former body-builder played the villain in the original Star Wars films

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The 6ft 6in former body-builder played the villain in the original Star Wars filmsCredit: Alamy

Because of the father of three’s stature, he played a variety of bad guys and monsters.

But daughter Rachel, 50, said: “He might have looked quite scary but as a person he was a sweet, kind and generous man.

“He really was a gentle giant. And to us he was our dad.”

Rachel, of Croydon, South London, confirmed Dave had previously been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

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Dave's daughter Rachel said he should be remembered as a 'gentle giant'

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Dave’s daughter Rachel said he should be remembered as a ‘gentle giant’Credit: Getty

She added: “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.”

Dave started his career as a bodybuilder, weightlifter and personal trainer.

Rachel also confirmed he had previously been diagnosed with Alzheimer's

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Rachel also confirmed he had previously been diagnosed with Alzheimer’sCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

Among his clients was Christopher Reeve, who he helped to train for the part of Superman.

In the 1960s and 70s he starred in cult series including The Saint, Department S, Space 1999, The Champions and Doctor Who, opposite Jon Pertwee.

His movie debut was 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale, as Frankenstein’s creature. He played the monster twice more in Hammer horror films.

On TV he worked with the two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, Benny Hill and Frankie Howerd.

Luke Skywalker star Mark Hamill paid tribute to his former co-star

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Luke Skywalker star Mark Hamill paid tribute to his former co-starCredit: Getty
Taking to Twitter, Mark wrote 'he was a kind man and much more than Darth Vader'

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Taking to Twitter, Mark wrote ‘he was a kind man and much more than Darth Vader’

But he was most proud of his role as the Green Cross Code Man, appearing in a TV campaign and touring schools.

He was awarded the MBE for helping cut road deaths — before turning to the dark side as the legendary Sith baddie Vader.

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Star Wars director George Lucas offered him a choice of parts, Vader or Chewbacca. Asked why he went for the former he said: “Everyone remembers the villain.”

Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher nicknamed him “Darth Farmer” for his thick West Country accent, and his lines were dubbed by James Earl Jones.

Dave started his career as a bodybuilder and personal trainer

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Dave started his career as a bodybuilder and personal trainerCredit: Rex Features
He was most proud of his role as the Green Cross Code Man

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He was most proud of his role as the Green Cross Code ManCredit: Eye Catchers Press
He received an MBE for his work promoting road safety in 2000

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He received an MBE for his work promoting road safety in 2000Credit: PA:Press Association

Lucas is believed to have feared Dave leaked plot details — which he denied — and the pair had not spoken since Return Of The Jedi wrapped in 1983.

But last night Lucas said on the official Star Wars website: “David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character.

Dave was given the choice of Vader of Chewbacca when he was cast in Star Wars

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Dave was given the choice of Vader of Chewbacca when he was cast in Star WarsCredit: Rex Features
Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher nicknamed him 'Darth Farmer' for his thick West Country accent

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Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher nicknamed him ‘Darth Farmer’ for his thick West Country accentCredit: Alamy

“He made Vader leap off the page and on to the big screen, with an imposing stature and movement performance to match the intensity and undercurrent of Vader’s presence.

“David was up for anything and contributed to the success of what would become a memorable, tragic figure. May he rest in peace.”

Darth Vader became one of the most iconic characters in cinema history and, until his retirement in 2016, Dave visited fan conventions all over the world.

Until his retirement in 2016, Dave visited fan conventions all over the world

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Until his retirement in 2016, Dave visited fan conventions all over the worldCredit: Not known, clear with picture desk
Dave Prowse dead- Darth Vader actor who played Luke Skywalker’s father in Star Wars dies after short illness, aged 85

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