When growing up, I loved “Star Wars.” The film shined with the essence of something new. I noted that the villain of the film carried himself with confidence and pride. Through copious reading I discovered the man behind the mask, David Prowse, brought the antagonistic Sith Lord to life in “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” with James Earl Jones over-dubbing his voice. I dug deeper and learned all I could about Prowse.
David Prowse, who stands at a height of 6’7″, won the heavyweight title for weightlifting three consecutive years from 1962-1964 and had the self-proclaimed title as Britain’s strongest man when he took an early retirement. Now the towering 79-year-old man has reported that he was diagnosed with dementia this past summer.
With “Star Wars” mania hitting a fever pitch this week with an 88-second sneak peak trailer released for the new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” film on Friday, Prowse said he was disappointed that he was not able to play a part in the latest movie. He stated.
“It wouldn’t have mattered what it was, I would have loved to have done something in it – even if it was just a cameo.”
Prowse has been taking medication in recent weeks in an attempt to counter the effects of his dementia. He continued.
“Sometimes I can’t remember things I did yesterday. That worries me more than not remembering something 20 years ago.”
“Now I would probably forget my lines.”
Despite the bad news, there is a bright lining to Prowse’s story. He has come out of retirement to play safety superhero the Green Cross Code Man. In the role, he will reinforce the mantra he drummed into the public’s mind in the 1970s and 1980s: “Stop, look, listen, think.”
Prowse had a reason to come out of retirement after learning 10,384 pedestrians were hit after stepping into the road without looking last year.
“When the original Green Cross Man public information films ran, road accident rates reduced significantly. But that was in the days before pedestrians wandered around glued to their smartphones or wearing giant headphones. Now it appears adults are completely out of practice with road safety. I hope these new films can have the same positive impact on roadside behaviors as the original series did.”
For his work, Prowse was made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by the Queen in 2000 for his contribution to road safety. Death and injuries involving children dropped dramatically during the campaign, sponsored by the Department of Transport, which began in 1971. The actor revealed he still owns his trusty Droid, a small robot that helped him underline the original road safety message. He is confident the new campaign will yield the same results. Check out a couple of the spots.
To follow this up, I did have a chance to meet Mr. Prowse at San Diego’s Comic-Con a few years back. I didn’t really discuss “Star Wars” with him. I know the same questions have been asked of him ad nauseam. I did ask him about how he was doing and we had a brief conversation. I will always remember him for being kind and warm-hearted. I wish him the best. One more thing, yes, I did purchase an autograph and I am proud to have it in my collection.
All my best to you, Mr. Prowse. You are the one and only Darth Vader. May the Force be with you!