Darth Vader actor dies at 85

Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died at age 85.

His agent Thomas Bowington confirmed the star had passed away following a short illness, writing in a Facebook post: "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."

Bowington added that Prowse's death was a "truly and deeply heart-wrenching loss for us and millions of fans all over the world".

The former bodybuilder debuted in the iconic role, which was voiced by American actor James Earl Jones, in 1977's Star Wars. He went on to appear in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

His acting career spanned more than 50 years, with the star landing roles in A Clockwork Orange and Doctor Who, among others. He also enjoyed significant success as an athlete and represented England as a weightlifter at the Commonwealth Games in the early 1960s.

During that time, he reportedly became close friends with rival bodybuilding competitors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno and he later served as the physical trainer for Christopher Reeve as he prepared to take on the role of Superman.

Prowse was a familiar face on U.K. TV as the first Green Cross Code Man, a character used in road safety advertising aimed at children. The superhero-like character appeared in campaigns for over two decades and secured Prowse an MBE in 2000.

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