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The Department of Defense, and it’s various departments and branches, usually tried to bring celebrities to Europe. It helped morale considerably, especially to those stationed in countries where English wasn’t the spoken language. The USO usually did it’s part too, boasting of a long tradition that includes — of course — Bob Hope. Still, one of the unknown things is this: a lot of those celebrities tended to be English, sometimes. Lets face it, even with the largess that’s the federal government, there’s a number of bean counting bureaucrats that still liked to find inventive ways to cut corners. British celebrities, frankly, were cheaper to book, partly because you didn’t have to fly them across the Atlantic Ocean.

David Prowse was one such “bargain” celebrity. One of Prowse’s achievements, throughout his acting career, was being one of the many people who played Darth Vader. By today’s standards, that’s a fairly large crowd, but in the 1980’s, that was limited to a few people. There was the actor that, for a split second, bared the damaged back his head, as a machine lowered Vader’s helmet. There’s the Vader that dies at the end of Return of the Jedi, and not to mention the ghost of Anakin Skywalker. Those are minor trivialities, though. Two people were Vader most often in the classic trilogy. James Earl Jones provided the voice, and David Prowse dressed up in the black suit for the physical acting.

David Prowse lived in the UK, and since Star Wars rivals the Harry Potter mania of this decade, all lot of children flocked to Prowse’s appearances and autograph sessions. So, Prowse was cheap and he was a proven draw. For kids in the UK, Prowse was something else too; often, on the BBC, he appeared as The Green Cross Codesman, a superhero bent on educating kids about the importance of looking both ways before crossing the road. Strangely, I remember none of the kids, at West Ruislip, ever caring about what he did for BBC television. He was, quite simply, the body of Darth Vader, and as such, had to answer questions solely on that. As in: Mr. Prowse? If Vader had to wear that black suit all the time, how did he ever go to the bathroom?

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