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David Prowse Bodybuilder

david prowse bodybuilder, actor darth vader

David Prowse The Muscle Behind Darth Vader

David Prowse, the bodybuilder, actor, and fitness expert is best known for his iconic portrayal of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Born in Bristol, England in 1935, Prowse was a natural athlete from a young age. He was a successful bodybuilder, winning the British heavyweight weightlifting championship in 1962, and later went on to become a successful actor. In this article, we will be exploring the life and career of David Prowse, from his early days of bodybuilding to his iconic portrayal of Darth Vader.

David Prowse Training

Around the age of 15, my Brother in Law, Roy, who was 18 decided to send away for a Charles Atlas Course of Physical Self Improvement. I think he'd been inspired by the great physique shots of Charles Scilliano Atlas who, at the height of his fame in 1922 won the worlds best developed man contest. This, alongside the now world famous cartoon strip type ads of the skinny wimp on the beach having sand kicked in his face, clinched the decision. The course duly arrived and I was invited to join Roy in the exercise routine that didn't involve the use of any equipment whatsoever and revelled under the title of "Dynamic Tension". With hindsight dynamic tension was nothing more than what we now term as Isometric and isotonic exercises - Isometric meaning static contractions, isotonic meaning muscle contractions during and after movement.

There were also quite a few standard type exercises like press ups, sit ups, leg raises, plus others where your own body supplied the resistance instead of utilising expensive equipment like weights and chest expanders. The pair of us struggled manfully with the routine and it wasn't long before I saw the first signs of progress, a muscular lump came up on the inside of my forearms. Flushed with success I started training even harder whilst unfortunately Roy gave up, moved out of the house but fortunately left me with the course with no instalments to pay.

I very quickly decided that I needed something a bit more strenuous than the Charles Atlas Course, so I bought myself a Health and Strength magazine and joined a weight training group that used to train in the house of the area organiser for the Health and Strength League. From there I graduated to buying my own set of weights and from then on trained either at home in the back garden in what used to be a coal shed, and with other dedicated enthusiasts living in and around the Bristol area in makeshift gyms that were invariably attached to larger sports or works social clubs.

My competing days started with the Junior Mr. West Britain that I never won, on to the Mr. West Britain where, for several years, I was always 2nd or 3rd to the 1ike of much shorter but more proportionate bodybuilders like Ron Thomas, John Pegler and Graham Price. By the time the 1960 Mr. Universe contest came round I'd blossomed from a start of 6' 5" and 11 1/2 stones (2meters and 75k) to 6'7" and 17 stone 31bs (just over 2meters and 110k). But my problem was that although I was regarded as one of the top 20 physiques in the country, at 6' 7" I was nowhere near as heavily muscled as the shorter competitors and after the disappointment of being told by the chief judge that my ugly feet would always count against me, I decided to throw in the bodybuilding towel and turn my sights to competitive weightlifting.

After a short spell competing on the bodybuilders lifts in what used to be called the strength set, I set my sights on Olympic Weightlifting and in my first year of competition won the Western Counties title and then went on to place 3rd in the British Championships. The following year, 1962, I won the heavyweight title and was invited to compete in the World Championships in Budapest and the Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. I retained the title in 1963 and 1964, but then the disappointment of not getting selected for the Olympic team to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, forced my early retirement. I'd already left Bristol to live in Croydon and on retirement formed professional act calling myself "Britain's Strongest Man", became director of weight traning at the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace, was appointed European Sales Manager and assistant editor for the Weider Company (the leading publisher of bodybuilding and fitness magazines and major manufacturer of weight training equipment and bodybuilding supplement products), endorsed the Bullworker for many years, and opened my own health and fitness gymnasium which I continued to run for over 30 years.

To satisfy my competitive spirit I took up professional highland games, won third place in the World Caber Tossing Championship, and was then sponsored by McVities Biscuits to tour the world giving exhibitions of the Highland Games whilst at the same time promoting interest at British Export Week in the McVities delicious products.

Eventually I had three gymnasiums under my control and had the good fortune to train many famous celebrities such as Christopher Reeve for the role of Superman, Daniel Day Lewis for his role in "The Last of the Mohicans", Vanessa Redgrave, Edward Heath M.P., Robert Powell, Peter Davidson, Sandra Dickenson, Jason Donovan, Shane Richie, H.RH. Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Azziz of Saudi Arabia, Gary Wilmott, John Barrowman, Stephanie Powers. My personal client list was so 'star studded' that the Sunday Times newspaper in Great Britain described me as the Worlds no. 1 personal trainer.

At the age of 72 I still train regularly 3 times a week, advise on exercise, diet and fitness, and take on personal clients who wish to train under my personal supervision either by post, internet or personal visits. Part of my training philosophy is contained in my first book 'Fitness is Fun'".

David Prowse Movies and TV Shows

I've had a great many varied roles over the course of my career in film and television. This is a complete list with some of my favourites highlighted. Many of these are covered in more depth in my autobiography, 'Straight from the Force's Mouth'.

SAVING STARWARS 2003 - I had the pleasure of playing myself in this fan run film written, produced and directed by Garry Wood of Woodworks Films. Most of the action takes place during the Celebration 2 convention where a group of fans are trying to steal a briefcase from George Lucas who is attending the convention with the briefcase chained to his wrist containing the script of Episode 3. Worked on the film for 10 days and ended up saving George and the briefcase from the fans. The film is now out on DVD and has been accepted for showing at film festivals around the world. Just recently we had a showing at the London Film Festival and it was nominated for best screen play and won the best supporting actor role. Gary is to be congratulated on the tremendous amount of work that he and the production team have put into making Saving Starwars so successful especially considering that it is his first production effort.

STARWARS EPISODE 6 'RETURN OF THE JEDI' 1982 - This for me was the weak part of the trilogy and unfortunately turned out to be the worst film experience I have ever had. You can read about this in my book 'Straight from the Force's Mouth'. I did not like the introduction of the Ewoks, although the kids loved it, but the premise that a bunch of teddy bears with sticks and stones could defeat the might of the Storm Troopers was totally unbelievable and spoilt the film for me even though I did not have a great involvement. Did not go on location although the locations this time were better being the Northern Californian redwood forests and the desert scenes were filmed in

THE ROSE MEDALLION 1981 - A three episode thriller for the BBC in which I had the co lead playing Stanley, the cousin of the male lead, Donald Sumpter a seedy run down detective. Anna Nicholas supplied the glamour for the production and the special effects had the task of creating Sicily in the Cheddar Gorge area where the filming took place. Another great acting role for myself with plenty of dialogue and acting opportunities. The story was a search for missing treasure that involved the Mafia hence the Sicily connection.

HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY 1981 - I played the bodyguard to Hotblack Desiato in the final episode 'The Restaurant at the end of the Universe'. Former Dr. Who, Peter Davidson, played the pig that wanted to be eaten and spoke the role with a strong West Country accent. In interviews that he subsequently did he was always asked how he arrived at the voice of the pig to which he replied 'I just listened to Dave Prowse'. Douglas Adams was the author of the book and it was a pleasure to meet and talk with him on set.

STARWARS EPISODE 5 'THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK' 1978 - This for me was my favourite of the Starwars movies. We had a wonderful director Irving Kershner who I rank as one of the best directors I have ever worked with. It was, of course, a big reunion for us all and by now we all knew that we were involved in a cinematic phenomena. Once again I did not go on location - Norway for the snow scenes - and my work was in the studio in Elstree. The old team were back together plus new cast members like Caroline Blakiston who played Mon Mothma and my old friend Bruce Boa who played General Reikeen. Bruce and I remained good friends right up until his death last year, in fact it was me who introduced him to the convention scene, Come to think of it, it was also me that introduced Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Warwick Davis, and Jeremy Bulloch to the Sci Fi convention scene when I got them together for the Men Behind the Masks venture. Peter Sujitsky was the lighting cameraman on the movie and I thought the carbon freezer scenes were sensational, Although it looked great, working on the set and trying to fight a light sabre scene with Luke was very difficult in as much as the temperature on set was over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

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