By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
All photos copyright Owen Quinn
The news today came through that Dave Prowse, the man that played Darth Vader in the first three Star Wars movies, died after a short illness.
I met him three times in Belfast. What he was best known for was being the Green Cross Code Man and the evil Darth Vader. When I was a kid I found out he was appearing at a shop in Belfast and I begged my Dad to take me down. Bless him he was knackered after a week’s work and Saturday was his rest day but he agreed. By the time I got there Dave was dressed as the Green Cross Code Man. I was kind of disappointed at not seeing him in the Vader costume but the good thing was at least I knew it was him. Anyone can wear a Darth Vader costume and pretend to be Dave Prowse. Green Cross Code Man was a favorite of mine too so it was a double bonus for me.
My memories are that he was a big fella and a bit snappy with the excited kids but he signed my Empire Strikes Back storybook which has been lost over time and numerous house moves. My mother bought me the Tauntaun that day and I was a very happy chappy. It was around that time that I became an autograph collector and wrote to lots of Star Wars actors including Dave Prowse. He sent me back a signed postcard of that classic moment of Darth Vader telling Luke he was his father. I still have it to this day and have to say Dave has a great signature. It’s very distinctive and like Vader you couldn’t mistake it for anything else.
I met him again years later in Belfast at W5 only this time I had my young son with me whom he signed an autograph for. It was only then I realized what a generational thing Star Wars fandom is as my son was caught up in the world of Star Wars just as I was at his age.
But as a science fiction fan I was already aware of Dave Prowse long before Darth Vader came into our lives. Prowse appeared in the Jon Pertwee story the Time Monster as the Minotaur. He was also Frankenstein’s monster, monsters in Space 1999, the Tomorrow People and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galay to name a few so this giant was on my radar froma young age.
Now he has gone but will forever live on in our minds and hearts as the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader. His legacy will live on even for this 52 year old fan because this year Santa is bringing me yet more Darth Vader action figures and guess what, this train will never stop.