|2 Dec 2020|
“I worked at the 2012 Olympic boxing in London. My taxi would park up half a mile from the ExCel & I'd walk up along the river. Two days running I met the same guy, an older man in his mid-70's called Dave. He was really nice and very encouraging of what I was doing at the games. I managed to get out of him that he'd been British weightlifting champion. I asked what he did after he'd retired from sport, and he said "Well...I did a bit of acting". I said 'Oh right, anything I might have seen?' I'll never forget his smile when he said 'Yeah, possibly.' He said 'Have you seen Star Wars?' Obviously I laughed and said 'I think I've heard of it.' He said "Well, I'm Darth Vader". It's the coolest thing I've ever heard anyone say, and he was a nice man to talk to on those couple of walks. RIP Dave Prowse.” An anecdote on twitter from Chris Lloyd @ChrisLloydTV
On Sunday 29 November 2020 the world woke up to the news that the actor who played Darth Vader, had passed away. “It’s with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and million of fans around the world, to announce that our client Dave Prowse MBE has passed away at the age of 85,” Prowse’s agents Bowington Management tweeted on Sunday. To all of the BGS community, and indeed that of Bristol, it had extra significance.
Prowse was born in Southmead, Bristol in 1935 and raised by his mother before gaining a scholarship to BGS. He gained an interest in bodybuilding in his early teens which saw him represent England at the Commonwealth Games in the early 1960s.
Prowse made his film debut in 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale playing Frankenstein's Creature, a part he was asked to play again two more times. However Prowse was most famous for his role as Darth Vader in Star Wars. His imposing 6'6" body builder physique lent perfectly to the imposing role yet there was a problem - his West Country accent! Nicknamed 'Farmer Vader' by the cast, his voice was eventually dubbed over by another actor.
However Prouse was most proud of his role as the Green Cross Man in a long-running British road safety campaign, for which he was awarded an MBE in 2000. In a column for the Guardian in 2014, Prowse wrote: “Many people will know me for being the ultimate screen villain, Star Wars’ Darth Vader. But being a “goodie goodie” and heading up the Green Cross Code campaign, helping to save thousands of lives has always been the ultimate honour.”
When news of his death broke this week his agent Thomas Bowington said "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.”
This is certainly true for all of us at Bristol Grammar School, with former student Timon Singh writing “For certain Bristol Grammar School pupils, nothing is as exciting as learning that you attend the same school as Darth Vader. Sure, the school has produced many distinguished luminaries over the years from politicians, actors, musicians, sporting icons… but there’s only one Dark Lord of the Sith.”
Prowse was married from 1963 to Norma Scammell and was the father of three children.