The collection of a giant of cinema is coming up at East Bristol Auctions: Dave Prowse (1935-2020), who played Darth Vader in Star Wars.
However, despite his worldwide fame, the 6ft 6in (1.98m) former weightlifter who represented England at the Commonwealth Games in the early 1960s was much prouder of another role familiar to viewers of 1970s UK public information films: the Green Cross Code Man.
Prowse’s actual screen-used Green Cross Code Man costume – one of only two made – is estimated at £3000-5000 in this East Bristol sale being held just a stone’s throw from where he was born in Southmead, Bristol. The other costume is thought to be destroyed.
In interviews Prowse stated that it was his Green Cross Code work that meant the most to him as road accidents involving children fell by over 50% during the run of the films.
Droid, the robot sidekick who appeared alongside him in the later Green Cross Code adverts, is also going under the hammer. The fibreglass robot which lights up, moves and talks, is estimated at £8000-12,000.
It was given to Prowse after filming for the adverts ended, and was taken to several public appearances for fans to see. In the 2000s the robot was restored by fans in Wiltshire for Prowse and has since been maintained and cared for by Lee Towersey – R2D2 builder and operator in The Force Awakens, The Rise Of Skywalker, Rogue One and Solo.
Such was the popularity of Star Wars, and the connection between Prowse and the franchise, it was decided that Green Cross Code Man should have a robot side-kick and so Droid was born into the public information films in the early 1980s.
Prowse’s Darth Vader, which he played from 1977-83, was actually voiced by James Earl Jones – Prowse’s West Country accent deemed not suitable enough for a terrifying Sith Lord.
Another stand-out item in this 600-lot auction is Prowse’s original script from The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. But fans expecting to get their hands on the famous ‘No, I am your Father’ line will be disappointed as it doesn’t actually feature in the script.
East Bristol auctioneer Andrew Stowe explains: “The reveal that Vader is Luke’s father was kept a big secret from most of the cast. As Prowse’s lines would be over-dubbed by James Earl Jones he wasn’t privy to the secret, so instead, he was given alternate dialogue which is considerably less dramatic. But that in itself makes this a unique piece of history.”
The script is estimated at £2500-4000.
From Skywalker to Vader with love
Stowe adds: “‘What’s been really incredible going through his collection is how much of a collector Mr Prowse was. He had over 400 autographs from people he had worked with, or people he admired.”
Another sale highlight is a signed photograph from Mark Hamill who played Luke Skywalker, which reads For David – You’ll Always Be ‘Dad’ Vader To Me – Your Loving Son, Mark.
“It’s completely unique,” says Stowe. “There is only one person on the planet who can get that kind of autograph from Mr Hamill – Dave Prowse. It’s funny, its poignant, it’s a really special item and I’m sure Star Wars fans will love a chance to own it.”
The photograph carries an estimate of £1000-2000.
The sale was planned by Prowse’s manager at Bowington Management, working with the Prowse family, including Prowse’s widow, Norma.
Suitably, it will be held on May 4 – as in Star Wars day (try ‘May The Force Be With You’/’May the Fourth Be With You’).