Fans may know the British body-builder best for physically bringing infamous “Star Wars” villain Darth Vader to life. Although James Earl Jones lent his deep, menacing voice to the character, Prowse was the one in costume on-set every day.
Prowse’s management company, Bowington Management, confirmed that the actor died following a short illness, writing on Twitter, “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 M.B.E. has passed away at the age of 85.”
Prowse was asked to audition for the roles of Darth Vader and Chewbacca after "Star Wars" director George Lucas saw him in “A Clockwork Orange,” but he told BBC News in an interview he chose Vader because ''you always remember the bad guys.''
He also had roles in “The Saint,” “Doctor Who” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” and played Frankenstein in three different movies, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Following news of the science fiction icon’s death, it didn’t take long before co-stars and celebrity fans took to social media to eulogize the late star.
Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill was among the first to take to Twitter to honor his late co-star.
"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," he wrote.
"More sad news. Dave has gone. I don’t think 3PO ever faced Vader’s mighty presence on set, other than as a bag of bits on Chewie’s shoulders in the carbon freezer. But Dave’s iconic figure dominated the finished film in '77 and has done so ever since. And will continue to do so," wrote C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels.
"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!" added young Boba Fette star Daniel Logan.
"This will be a thread of tribute to #DavidProwse, who was the physical form of #DarthVader. We all have celebrated the brilliance of @jamesearljones’ vocal performance as Vader—& rightfully so," Yvette Nicole Brown wrote. "But we must never forget the physical swag Mr. Prowse brought to the role. #Respect!"
"May the force be with you, David Prowse," wrote "Lord of the Rings" star Elijah Wood.
"Saddened to wake up to the news that my Twitter friend David Prowse passed away. David, a literal giant among men, played many roles in his career. His most famous role was being the misunderstood father who tried to give the universe to his very disobedient twins. #DarthVader," noted "Star Trek" actor William Shatner.
"Feel that great disturbance in The Force tonight?" comedian Doug Benson asked. "RIP David Prowse."
"RIP David Prowse. That stature contributed so much to Darth Vader’s legend. #BePeace," Carl Weathers wrote.
"David Prowse as Darth Vader was BRILLIANT. He was so unbelievably magical in that suit. I’ve watched Empire so many times with the sound off just to watch how he moved. His physical choices were as iconic as James’ voice to me & aside from all of that he was such a nice man. RIP," Joe Manganiello wrote.
"#DaveProwse has passed away. #fanfamily We knew him best as #DarthVader Dave got me into shape/trained me for my Role in Matador. He was a genuine, kind, loving man, loved life, family, fitness and his fans. Dave was a huge part of our #confamily his smile will be missed. Jb," wrote "Doctor Who" star John Barrowman.