Star Wars legend David Prowse died of coronavirus, his family have confirmed.
The Darth Vader actor was reported to have died on Saturday at the age of 85.
His daughter Rachel Prowse has today confirmed her father died of Covid-19 after previously being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
After contracting coronavirus, Mr Prowse spent two weeks in hospital before his death.
Following the sad news, the actor’s daughter Rachel has told reporters that because of the virus the family were unable to see him in his final days and his funeral will only be a small gathering.
Due to government restrictions on who can attend funerals, Mr Prowse’s family said they will only be able to hold a small service.
Rachel said: “He died of coronavirus. It’s horrible to have not got to see him on the ward and say goodbye, it makes it even harder.
“We would have had a big celebration of his life, but now [due to coronavirus restrictions] we are not going to be able to do the send off we would have wanted for him.”
Rachel, 50, paid tribute to her father, who was best-known for playing the terrifying Sith Lord in the original Star Wars trilogy.
The former body-builder and weight-lifting champion won the role in 1977 due to his towering height of 6ft 6in.
Director George Lucas was said to have offered Mr Prowse the roles of Vader and Han Solo’s hairy sidekick Chewbacca, but he turned down the Wookie part in favour of bringing the evil overlord of the film to life.
Rachel said that although her father was known for mainly portraying villains on the big screen, in real life he was a gentle giant.
“He was a really nice, kind, gentle man,” she explained. “He might have looked quite scary and was known for playing villains and lots of different monsters in films, but as a person he was a sweet, kind and generous man.
“He really was a gentle giant. And to us he was our dad.
“He was very cool. When we went to collect his stuff from the hospital the nurse said what a cool guy he was.
“We were used to sharing him with the world. He was such a larger than life character.
“He would have loved all this – people tweeting and commenting about him. He would have loved to see himself trending on Twitter.”
Following his death on Saturday, fans and colleagues shared memories of the Bristol-born actor, including his Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill.
Speaking from Mr Prowse’s home in Croydon, south London, where he had lived for many years, Rachel said: “It’s lovely to see how much he was loved and what an impact he had on people’s lives.
“We’ve had so many positive messages from around the world and people have been tweeting such nice memories of him, it’s been really amazing to see.”
Rachel, who now lives in Cambridge, said the role her father was most proud of was playing the safety superhero, the Green Cross Code Man in the 1970s and 80s.
She added: “He got to travel the world and was really proud of his achievements, especially the Green Cross Code Man. That was the one he was really proud of because it was a government campaign to reduce road crash deaths.
“He visited schools all over the country and met a lot of people, he really loved it. A lot of people have been commenting about how they met him and did the Green Cross Code tours. We were used to sharing him with the nation.”
Mr Prowse is survived by his wife Norma, his three children and three grandchildren.