The man behind Darth Vader's mask was once on The Beverly Hillbillies

Before he was the most feared villain in the galaxy, David Prowse played bagpipes for Elly May.

Though James Earl Jones will always be closely tied to Darth Vader for providing the deep, menacing voice, it took multiple people to bring the iconic Star Wars villain to life. The heavy, robotic breathing was recorded by sound designer Ben Burtt and the lightsaber battles were performed by expert swordsman Bob Anderson. But the man who really embodied Darth Vader, stalking the halls of the Death Star, towering above those who opposed him, was British bodybuilder David Prowse.

Prowse, who passed away Saturday at the age of 85, was a three-time British weightlifting champion in the early 1960s before becoming an actor. His breakout role came in the dark 1971 Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange as the burly assistant to author Frank Alexander.

But before Prowse caught George Lucas' eye in A Clockwork Orange, he won small roles in many movies and TV shows. One of those shows was the classic sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies.

At the beginning of the seventh season of Hillbillies, the Clampetts travel to England and move into Clampett Castle. The season's first five episodes are devoted to the trip and the various misunderstandings Jed, Granny, Jethro and Elly May experience while across the pond.

In "Coming Through the Rye," Jethro falls for a beautiful woman in the neighboring castle. He spies her through a telescope but when Jed and Granny take a look, all they see is her muscular brother, Emlyn. Because he's wearing a kilt, they mistake Emlyn for a woman and think he's the object of Jethro's affection.

Of course, hilarious complications ensue — including Emlyn getting drunk on Granny’s tonic ironically meant to cure alcoholism. David Prowse plays the strapping, kilt-wearing man who tries to impress Elly May by playing the bagpipes, even though he can't walk straight. The character could not be more different than the powerful galactic villain he would portray less than ten years later.

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Tresix 9 months ago
Prowse was also in the Russ Meyer movie “Black Snake” (a.k.a.: “Sweet Suzy”). It was Meyer who informed Prowse that his voice was dubbed over in “Star Wars”.
WilliamUchtman 12 months ago
Dave also starred on two episodes of "The Benny Hill Show." Not many people know that.
Hogansucks1 12 months ago
‘Jethro’, “I AM YOUR FATHER” ! 🥴. R.I.P. Mr. Prowse !
TexasGreek 12 months ago
I met David Prowse in Irving, TX. Very nice guy. He wrote "I AM Darth Vader!" I got the impression that he wasn't to happy about James Earl Jone's voice being used instead of his voice. Years later I found it to be the case.
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