Docu-Series Explores Big Willie Robinson’s Ties to Darth Vader Role

A new 7-part docu-series tells the true story of “Big Willie” Robinson, a street racer who united Los Angeles in the 1960s, after the Watts Riots. Willie had many connections to Hollywood and made a claim that he was asked to play Darth Vader in the original Star Wars film. Today’s episode (4) explores this claim and gets into Wilile’s relationship with producer, Gary Kurtz and a time that Stormtroopers showed up at his racetrack, Brotherhood Raceway.

Larger Than Life tells the true story of “Big Willie” Robinson, a street racer who united Los Angeles in the 1960s, after the catastrophic Watts Riots. Big Willie, a 6-foot-6, muscle-bound gearhead, used street racing to heal a city torn apart by violence. Cops and criminals, movie stars and miscreants, even Crips and Bloods — out at the drag strip, Willie could get them all to see eye to eye.

Reported and hosted by Times staff writer Daniel Miller, the seven-part docu-series spotlights Big Willie’s unique role in local drag racing, while examining his impact on policing, activism and today’s car culture. His street diplomacy eased racial tensions and united L.A. But what caused Big Willie to fade into obscurity?

Exploring the life and legacy of L.A.’s “King of the Street,” the series shares never-before-revealed details uncovered through Miller’s investigative work, as well as personal stories from members of Willie’s International Brotherhood of Street Racers.

Listeners can also discover bonus content for each episode on latimes.com, including exclusive footage, images and more.

The episode is well worth a listen, take the link below for more.