Dave Prowse: Tributes paid as Darth Vader actor and Green Cross Code Man dies aged 85

Video report by ITV News Reporter Frankie McCamley

Tributes have been paid to actor and Star Wars fan favourite Dave Prowse who has died aged 85 following a short illness.

Born in Bristol, Prowse made his name in body building before switching to acting.

He was best known for playing Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy but is also familiar to many children of the 1970s as the Green Cross Code Man.

His Star Wars co-star Anthony Daniels - who plays C-3PO in the movies - led tributes. Mr Daniels told ITV News: "When I saw him out of costume, sitting in a chair, he was always immensely affable and kindly.

"I think when you're that big a physical being there comes a gentleness with it."

He described Prowse as "completely at odds" with the villain he played in the films.

C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels pays tribute to his Star Wars co-star

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies, described Prowse as “a kind man” who “loved his fans as much as they loved him”.

Hamill 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-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP”

Prowse won the role playing Vader due to his impressive 6ft 6in physique, appearing as the Sith Lord in the original Star Wars trilogy from 1977-1983.

His West Country accent was deemed not quite suitable, however, and the part was dubbed by the voice of James Earl Jones.

David Prowse pictured as the Green Cross Code Man in 1982. Credit: PA Wire

Prowse will also be remembered as the safety superhero of the Green Cross Code multimedia campaign that began in the 1970s.

As the Green Cross Code Man Prowse helped to raise awareness of pedestrian road safety, playing the part for 14 years.

It was for his services to charity and to Road Safety that the actor went on to receive an MBE in 2000.

In 2014 he reprised his role - 40 years after the original campaign ended - donning the green and white suit for two new adverts created for Road Safety Week 2014.

  • Dave Prowse as the Green Cross Code Man in the 1970s campaign:

His agent Thomas Bowington said in a statement to the BBC: "May the force be with him, always!"

"Though famous for playing many monsters – for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives."

Mr Bowington called the actor’s death, after a short illness, “a truly and deeply heart-wrenching loss for us and millions of fans all over the world”.

Dave Prowse at the opening of Collect '99 at Wembley Exhibition Centre in London. Credit: PA

Actor Daniel Logan, who played Boba Fett in Star Wars: Episode II Attack Of The Clones, posted a picture to Twitter with Dave Prowse, writing: “Sad to hear of the passing of a #StarWars family member. RIP Dave Prowse.

“Darth Vader wouldn’t be the same without you in the costume. We had many fun times & laughs at cons together over the years.

“Glad to have been able to call you a friend. Rest now and be one with the Force!”

American actor Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the Rocky films and appears in Disney Plus Star Wars series The Mandalorian, paid tribute on Twitter: “RIP David Prowse. That stature contributed so much to Darth Vader’s legend. #BePeace.”

While film director Edgar Wright paid tribute to Prowse's role as the Green Cross Code Man.

He said: “As a kid Dave Prowse couldn’t be more famous to me; stalking along corridors as evil incarnate in the part of Darth Vader & stopping a whole generation of kiddies from being mown down in street as the Green Cross Code man. Rest in Peace, Bristol’s finest.”

Prowse was awarded an MBE after playing the Green Cross Code Man to promote road safety. Credit: PA

British actor Robin Askwith recalled first meeting Dave Prowse in 1972: “Such sad news that dear Dave Prowse has passed away..,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I first met him in his gym in 1972, West End gym and then he seemed to turn up in everything I did, once turning up in full Darth Vader kit to watch me roll around naked with Pamela Stephenson ….RIP Dave …”

Prowse represented England in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games in the early 1960s before embarking on an acting career.

Body actor for Darth Vader, David Prowse.

He was reportedly spotted by Star Wars director George Lucas when playing a bodyguard in the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, and invited to audition for the roles of Darth Vader and Chewbacca.

He once told the BBC he chose Vader over his hairy co-star because “you always remember the bad guys”.