Dave Prowse, the Bristol actor who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died at the age of 85.
The actor-turned-weightlifter, who also received an MBE for playing the Green Cross Code Man to promote road safety, died after a brief illness, his agent Thomas Bowington said in a Facebook post.
Prowse won the role as Vader due to his impressive 6ft 6in body, but since his West Country accent was not considered entirely appropriate, the role was voiced by James Earl Jones instead.
“May the force always be with him!” Mr Bowington said in a statement to the BBC.
“Although he is famous for playing a lot of monsters – to me and everyone who knew and worked with Dave, he was a hero in our lives.”
Mr Bowington described the actor’s death after a brief illness as “a truly and deeply heartbreaking loss for us and millions of fans around the world”.
Prowse represented England in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games in the early 1960s before starting an acting career.
He was reportedly discovered by Star Wars director George Lucas while playing a bodyguard in the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange and was invited to audition for the roles of Darth Vader and Chewbacca.
He once told the BBC that he preferred Vader to his hairy co-star because “the bad guys are always remembered”.