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Meet the kid behind the Darth Vader mask in that Volkswagen commercial

Feb 7, 2011, 11:01 AM EDT

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The kid behind the Darth Vader mask in that now-legendary Super Bowl Volkswagen commercial is a precocious 6-year-old who may indeed have mystical powers. For one thing, no one is immune to his charm, including Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer, who talked with young Max Pagehasm on The Today Show this morning. (Videos following the jump).

Max is no stranger to show business: He’s a regular on The Young and the Restless, and has done a couple of other TV commercials. But nothing he’s done has had the impact of the Volkswagen ad, which was released prior to the Super Bowl and gathered more than 7 million views by game time.

Max’s story is also unique in that he’s done all this despite a serious medical condition. At the age of 4 months he was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect. He received a pacemaker at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, which he still must wear today. KESQ:

“Max’s prognosis going forward is very good,” said Dr. Michael Silka, head of the hospital’s Division of Cardiology and Max’s pediatric cardiologist. “He can essentially have normal activity and with careful care, a full life is a reasonable expectation.”

Max’s parents see the attention as an opportunity to reach out to parents whose children suffer from heart conditions.

“When we first received the diagnosis, we were lost,” Buck Page said.

Going through the experience, they learned how traumatic it can be as a parent of a child with a serious ailment.

They said they hoped that in sharing their experience, they can help other parents of sick children understand they are not alone.

It’s also kind of fitting that young Darth Vader looks remarkably like young Anakin Skywalker.

Volkswagen’s Darth Vader Child From Southern California [KESQ]
‘Little Darth Vader’ reveals face behind the Force [MSNBC]