Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Force behind Darth Vader dies at 89

Bob Anderson fought Darth Vader's battles in two Star Wars films

Bob Anderson, who fought Darth Vader's light sabre battles and appeared in some of Hollywood's most famous duelling scenes, has died aged 89.

Former Royal Marine Bob Anderson wielded the light sabre in two of the three original Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi.

The Olympic fencer, who worked with actors from Errol Flynn to Antonio Banderas during five decades as a sword master, fight director and stunt performer, died early on New Year's Day at a hospital in West Sussex, the British Academy of Fencing said.

Vader, Star Wars' intergalactic arch-villain, was voiced by James Earl Jones and played by 6ft 6in former weightlifter David Prowse, but Anderson stepped in during the key fight scenes.

"David Prowse wasn't very good with a sword and Bob couldn't get him to do the moves," said Anderson's former assistant Leon Hill. "Fortunately Bob could just don the costume and do it himself."

The scenes worked beautifully, although Anderson, then nearing 60, was several inches shorter than Prowse.

Few knew of Anderson's role until Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, said in a 1983 interview that "Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader's fighting".

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

Born in Hampshire in 1922, Anderson was drawn to fencing from an early age. "I never took up the sword," he said in an interview for the 2009 documentary Reclaiming The Blade. "I think the sword took me up."

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