David Prowse (Darth Vader) and the Long Goodbye

Dave Prowse is Darth Vader


November 7, 2017 – Sadly, David Prowse (born 1 July 1935), has announced his immediate retirement from all further public appearances, including fan conventions, due to declining health.

In September 2017, the 82-year-old English actor – best known for physically portraying Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy – had announced on his official website that his retirement would become effective in January, 2018. But based on the recommendations of doctors, Mr. Prowse has decided to immediately withdraw from any further public appearances.

In his younger bodybuilding days, David Prowse stood a towering 6 feet 6 inches (198 cm), making him an intimidating Darth Vader. But a lifelong struggle with arthritis, hip replacement in later years, and other health issues, have resulted in diminished height and, now, his retirement.

A Farewell Gift?

At 82 years old, Mr. Prowse’s withdrawal from public life is predictable but lamentable nonetheless. It’s hard to say “Goodbye” to the core Star Wars actors whom we have known for decades. The passings of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) just last December 2016, and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) in August 2016, are somber reminders that there is a final sunset for everyone.

Perhaps as a farewell gift, Mr. Prowse and his assistant(s) are offering a limited-time 20% discount on online orders for his autograph. At the Dave Prowse website, there are fifteen (15) 8″x10″ glossy photos to choose from.

According to the website: “Dave will personalise your photo(s) to a name for you. If requested, you may choose ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ if you are buying for a birthday gift, and you even get to choose the ink colour Dave signs in. Star Wars movie quotes are available for an additional fee.”

In addition, shipping is FREE worldwide, offering you additional value.

The original list price was £49.99. But for a limited time, each photo is being sold for £39.99 (20% off). (The current GBP to USD conversion rate is £1.32:$1.00, so the cost for U.S. consumers is about $52.60 per photo.)

My Autograph Experience

On October 20, 2017, I ordered a single color photo (shown below) addressed to me (“Glenn”) in blue ink. Of the eight movie quotes available, I selected “The Force is with you.” I paid online with a credit card, which automatically converted my U.S. dollars to Great Britain pounds.

The eight movie quotes available include:
“May the Force be with you”
“The Force is with you”
“The Force is strong with this one”
“Give yourself to the Dark Side”
“Impressive, most impressive”
“I find your lack of faith disturbing”
“No. I am your father.”
“You don’t know the power of the Dark Side.”

If the photo is predominantly dark or black, Mr. Prowse will sign in silver ink. Otherwise, you can choose either silver, black or blue for your ink color.

David Prowse (Darth Vader) just mailed me his autograph postmarked 30 October 2017.

I immediately received an email confirmation, which advised that “typical delivery time is about 2 weeks after signing and shipping.” The email also cautioned, however, that delivery could take up to six weeks because of Mr. Prowse’ busy schedule.

On November 6th, a flat brown envelope with cardboard backing arrived in my mailbox in Orlando, Florida. In bold red letters, the envelope had a preprinted message: “Please do not bend”. The postage stamp was “£3.15” (equivalent to $4.14 USD) and was postmarked “30 Oct 2017”, but I could not read the rest of the smudged cancel-postmark.

In short, it took 17 days – from date of order through date of receipt – to receive Mr. Prowse’s autographed and personalized photo. The handwriting was clear and legible, and the photo arrived in perfect condition.

While it is all but certain that I will never have the pleasure of personally meeting Dave Prowse, I am more than happy to receive the signed memento as a farewell gift.

A farewell autograph, and a prized possession, from David Prowse (Darth Vader).


2018 UPDATE


In early 2018, David Prowse announced that he was now fully retired and no longer signing autographs. Accordingly, his website has removed most all ordering features – including a selection of Darth Vader photos and autograph-personalization options.

What’s left is a website that looks like this:

David Prowse (Darth Vader) is no longer offering personalized autographs.

For a limited time, you can still order some pre-signed autographs. The prices are much higher than before he retired, but that’s to be expected. In addition, each photograph comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and a matching serial numbered hologram.

Here are some sample photos showing what’s available:

Click HERE to visit David Prowse’s website.

Changes Coming to Disney’s Star Wars Weekends 2015

February 25, 2015 – Every year brings changes – some big, some small – to Disney’s annual Star Wars Weekends event. Here’s what we know so far:

1) The SWW 2015 official logo and poster (photo above) omits all references to Star Wars Rebels‘ animated characters, which was the single focus of last year’s event. Instead, the poster prominently features Vader’s visage and, for the most part, classic Star Wars vehicles. The two exceptions are the Starspeeder 1000 (from Disney’s Star Tours ride) at lower right and The Ghost (from Star Wars Rebels) at middle right.

To brand this as a Disney event, the poster features a traditional Jedi Mickey in his familiar combat pose. Curiously, the artists have included a drawing of the Earful Tower – the sometime-symbol of Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in Orlando.

Mickey's Sorcerer's Hat provides a backdrop for two stormtroopers during an opening show, before ropedrop,  on May 31, 2013.

Two stormtroopers perform before ropedrop, fronting Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat, 5/31/13.

I say “curiously” and “sometime” because the Earful Tower is no longer visible in the park. (To see it, you had to take the Studio Backlot Tour, which permanently closed Sept. 27, 2014.) Moreover, for 13 years, the 122-foot tall Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat greeted guests at the end of Hollywood Boulevard and became the unofficial symbol of the park. But as of today, the last remnants of the Sorcerer’s Hat have been finally removed after seven weeks of deconstruction.

With the Hat now gone, SWW fans will be greeted by this sight at the end of Hollywood Boulevard – a replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which was the original design when Disney’s Hollywood Studios (previously called Disney-MGM Studios) opened in May, 1989. The temporary construction walls will be gone long before the start of Star Wars Weekends.

The replica Grauman's Chinese Theatre at Disney's Hollywood Studios (photo date: 25 Feb 2015)

Temporary construction walls surround the remains of the dismantled Sorcerer’s Hat, which blocked views of the replica Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for many years. (Photo taken Feb. 25, 2015.)

2) Another Change: Disney’s press release states that “Darth’s Mall is also moving to a new and expanded complex near Streets of America, where you can find Star Wars-themed and exclusive event merchandise just for Star Wars Weekends 2015.” This is a definite change for the better, though the exact location has not yet been announced.

A much more spacious and grander Darth’s Mall greeted visitors in 2013.

Last year’s location was the cramped and crowded Sound Stage 1, located just past Toy Story Midway Mania. But the year before (2013), Darth’s Mall was in a wonderfully gigantic and air-conditioned tent. Yes, it was somewhat of a trek to reach (located in the Cast Member parking lot next to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror), but so well worth it.

3) I’m glad to hear that voice-actor James Arnold Taylor will be returning again to host another Star Wars Weekends event. Taylor is the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Clone Wars as well as many other characters. He will host the “Stars of the Saga” talk show at Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard. (This is the same theater where the musical live show “Beauty and the Beast” is held several times a day.)

As for the change of venue, I say “Uggggh!” While the Theater of the Stars is larger and can accommodate more people, and while there is a roof covering, the first-time SWW venue might fail for one simple reason: It’s not air-conditioned and the line to get in is exposed to Florida’s regular summer downpours.

4) Admission Price Increase: No surprise here. Disney raises its prices at least once (and sometimes twice) a year. The newest rates, effective Feb. 22, 2015, are:

1-Day to Magic Kingdom
Adult: $105 / Child: $99

1-Day to Animal Kingdom, Epcot, or Hollywood Studios
Adult: $97 / Child: $91

2-Day Ticket: Adult: $192 / Child: $179

3-Days: Adult: $275 / Child: $256

Park Hopper:
Added to 1-day Magic Kingdom or up to a 3-day ticket: $50
Added to 1-day Non-Magic Kingdom: $58
Added to 4+ day ticket: $64

Regular Annual Pass: $654
Florida Resident Annual Pass (Regular 365-days): $529

Admission prices in June 2012 ($89).  Admission in 2015 is now $97 for one adult at Hollywood Studios.

Admission prices in June 2012 ($89). Admission in 2015 is now $97 for one adult at Hollywood Studios.

While nobody likes a price increase and while some are screaming “bloody murder”, these rates are what the market will bear. Attendance increases over the last four years bear this out. In addition, attending a sports event or concert can easily cost you $100 for three hours of entertainment (while Magic Kingdom is typically open 8:00 or 9:00 AM till midnight during peak season). And nobody goes for just one day. A three-day adult ticket to Hollywood Studios now costs $275. A ten-day adult ticket is $365. The more days you attend, the smaller the incremental increase per day.

5) Fortunately, Disney will continue to offer five (5) glorious weekends of Star Wars celebrities and events. Prior to 2014, SWW covered four (4) weekends. Here are the dates for 2015:

Weekend I: May 15-17, 2015
Weekend II: May 22-24, 2015
Weekend III: May 29-31, 2015
Weekend IV: June 5-7, 2015
Weekend V: June 12-14, 2015

Postscript: End of an Era

Sadly, Disney announced on Nov. 5, 2015, that it will not be offering its annual Star Wars Weekends anymore. SWW was held in 1997, 2000-2001, and 2003-2015.

Disney cited the start of construction of the future Star Wars Land on 14 acres at the back of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as the reason for cancellation of the popular event. The Disney blog said: “While Star Wars Weekends has been a great way to enjoy the saga for a few days every year, now the Force will be with Disney’s Hollywood Studios every day.