It is a sad day in the Star Wars universe. The actor who originally played Darth Vader in the first three films has died at 85. David Prowse was chosen to play Darth Vader because he was 6’6” and a body builder. They wanted someone that was intimidating in the suit. And although they used James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader, Prowse was impressive because of his size. He towered over 5’9” Mark Hamill, especially after putting on those big boots.
In later years, David would tour the comicon circuit and sell photos. I was at a comicon in Houston a few years ago when I looked over and saw this old man sitting at a booth by himself. Then I looked at the sign above his head. When I saw that it was the original Darth Vader, I was a bit shocked that there was no line to meet him.
I eagerly walked over and begin to chat with David. He was a very pleasant man. I could tell that in his prime he was a big person. His hands were enormous. I also noticed that he had a pair of walking sticks behind him. Over the years he had some major health concerns and now needed assistance to stand and walk.
He was selling 8×10 photos of himself as Darth Vader from the movies. They were all great photos to choose from. I eventually chose the photo where he was giving the choke hold motion with the Force. David was more than happy to sign it for me. It’s one of my most cherished possessions. Not many can say they’ve met and talked with the original Darth Vader.
After I finished paying for my 8×10 photo and he signed it, he asked if I wanted a photo with him. I said sure pretty fast. He asked me to come around behind his table and sit with him. His assistant took my camera and got ready to take the photo. Just before the photo was taken, David asked me to put my hand on his shoulder. Then the pic was snapped. When I got home, I realized that David had made the photo much more of a friendly photo by having me place my hand upon his shoulder. It looked like 2 old friends posing for a photo. I’m sure David did that with a lot of people, but it still made me feel special.
David is known all over the globe as Darth Vader, even though he wouldn’t be recognized on the street. It’s actually kind of funny to think about David’s fame. He’s one of the most famous people that nobody recognizes. Can you imagine David in a pub during his prime. He would be chatting up the ladies and have to tell them who he was. It probably went something like this…
“Yeah, I’m Darth Vader from the movies.”
“You don’t sound like Darth Vader.”
“Well that’s because they used someone else’s voice.”
“Oh really?, I’m sure.”
“No, no, really, I’m Darth Vader. Watch me make the Force pose.”
So, in hindsight, I’m sure David struggled with being famous and not famous at the same time.
I hope David makes it into Heaven… and God asks him to wear the suit occasionally. Maybe God will give him the use of the Force to help keep people in line up there. Wouldn’t it be funny to be in Heaven raising some Hell and in walks Darth Vader, suit and all, to straighten shit out.
I’m a little sad today that David is no longer with us, but also happy that his suffering is over. I hope and pray often that I get into Heaven… and maybe I can meet David again. It definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing to have Darth Vader as a drinking buddy inside the pearly gates.
On this somber day, let’s think of the contribution David made to Pop Culture and the history of Film. He may well be voted the best and worst Villain of all time. May the Force be with David on his journey through the stars to meet his maker. He was and is loved by millions upon millions of people and fans. Maybe that will help him when he is being judged for his life on this planet. We, as regular people, can only hope to be as well-liked as David is.
Godspeed Darth Vader and I hope to see you again.