Entertainment & Arts

British Darth Vader fighter dies aged 89

Bob Anderson
Image caption Bob Anderson represented Britain in fencing at the 1952 Olympics, among other events

Former Olympic fencer Bob Anderson, who staged fights in Star Wars films and From Russia With Love, has died at the age of 89.

Anderson fought light sabre battles as Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, two of the original Star Wars films.

In the non-fight scenes, Vader was played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones.

The British Academy of Fencing confirmed Anderson died on 1 January.

It was Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars trilogy, who revealed Anderson was behind the fight scenes in a 1983 interview with Starlog magazine.

"It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George (Lucas) - the director - I didn't think it was fair any more," he said.

"Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It's ridiculous to preserve the myth that it's all done by one man."

Robert James Gilbert Anderson was born in Hampshire in 1922. He served in the Royal Marines during World War II and represented the UK in fencing at the 1952 Olympics and the 1950 and 1953 World Championships.

His first foray into the film world was in the 1952 swashbuckler The Master of Ballantrae, starring Errol Flynn.

Image caption Darth Vader (right) is one of the film world's best-known villains

He was soon in demand and went on to work on films including Die Another Day, The Princess Bride, The Legend of Zorro and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Fencing Academy president Philip Bruce paid tribute on its website: "He was truly one of our greatest fencing masters and a world-class film fight director and choreographer and both the fencing community and film world will miss him."

Anderson is survived by his wife Pearl and three children. Funeral details have not yet been announced.

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