Rest in Peace David Prowse (1935-2020)

I met David Prowse, the original Darth Vader, in 1978.

That’s not entirely true.  My dad met him and got his autograph for me while five-year-old me was terrified of the Dark Lord of the Sith.  Prowse signed it “Darth Vader”.  In fact nobody knew it was actually David Prowse, the real Vader, until the next day when it was in the newspapers.

Sears announced, to coincide with the latest wave of Kenner action figures, that “Darth Vader” was coming to the store to meet the kids and sign autographs.  (I got the brand new R5-D4 figure that night.)  It was typical for people in Star Wars costumes to show up at stores and wave to kids.  It was usually low budget.  This was anything but, as Prowse wore the real costume and even spoke.  If you’ve ever seen making-of footage, you know that Prowse spoke his lines on set before being overdubbed by James Earl Jones at the end of the process.  Jones, in fact, was not even credited in 1977.

Prowse is the forgotten Vader.  As a trained bodybuilder he was the right size to fill that towering suit.  All he lacked was the voice, but Vader was so much more than the voice.  He was also the body language and the sword fighting.  The sudden, deliberate movements.  The hacking and slashing that terrified Luke, and us as kids!

Prowse joins his friends Carrie Fischer, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Sir Alec Guiness and Peter Cushing as he becomes one with the Force.  The rest of the world watches A New Hope one more time.  I think I’ll watch the original untampered cut as released on DVD.  I really hope my parents kept that autograph.

May the Force be with David Prowse.


        1. Definitely. Unfortunately he went really unrecognized. Didn’t have a good relationship with Lucas. I felt really bad for him when I read an interview with director Irving Kershner who directed Empire. He kept referring to him as “the actor playing Darth Vader”. Not “David” but “the actor playing Darth Vader.” Everybody else was referred to by name.
          “Mark”…”Harrison”…”Carrie”. I thought “That must have been hard.”

          Liked by 1 person

  1. My Mom told me about this news, dammit 2020. I hope your folks still have that autograph, what a neat piece of history, and a cool story! I didn’t know he wasn’t even credited in 977, that’s pretty crappy of you, George. RIP Mr. Prowse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s very cool about the autograph :) It’s a sad story how he was blocked from doing a lot of comic cons due to the strained relationship with Lucas. I didn’t know that until I started wondering why I never saw him at any of the Star Wars Celebration conventions, and did some Googling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Candy, thanks for the awesome comment. Yeah, I felt bad that Prowse was never really appreciated. Including by Lucas.

      I remember reading an interview with director Irving Kershner, who was probably the best director they ever had on one of these films. But he always referred to Prowse as “the actor playing Darth Vader” in this interview. It just implied to me that he was never appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

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