'Darth Vader' sword master Bob Anderson dies at 89
Bob Anderson, a British stunt actor and Olympic fencing trainer who played Darth Vader in the famous lightsaber fight scenes in films from the original "Star Wars" trilogy, recently died at age 89.
"It is with extreme sadness that I must inform you that Bob Anderson passed away peacefully this morning at 4 am in hospital," The British Academy of Fencing's president, Philip Bruce, announced on the group's website on January 1.
"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," he added. "My heart felt sympathies and thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."
Anderson is survived by his wife Pearl and three children, the Associated Press said. He had served as president of the organization between 1961 and 69 and between 1972 and 1975, two years before the release of the first "Star Wars" film. Anderson is one of several actors who has portrayed Darth Vader, a villain who dons a menacing black helmet and costume.
Anderson had a 'behind-the-scenes' role in the first film in 1977, according to the New York Times. But he played Darth Vader in lightsaber duel scenes with nemsis Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" in 1980 and in "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" in 1983.
U.S. actor James Earl Jones provided his booming voice, while British former bodybuilder David Prowse played Darth Vader in physical form when he was not fighting.
Anderson was a member of the Royal Marines and served with British forces in the Mediterranean during World War II. He later competed in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Finland and coached Britain's national fencing team before he began teaching fencing to actors such as Errol Flynn, Sean Connery, Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp.
Anderson worked as a stunt actor in "The Master of Ballantrae" in 1953 and in the James Bond movies "From Russia with Love" and "Casino Royale" in the 1960s.
He also served as a sword master for fantasy and adventure films such as "The Princess Pride," "The Phantom" with Billy Zane, "First Knight" with Richard Gere, "The Three Musketeers" in 1993, Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" movies and "The Mask of Zorro" and "The Legend of Zorro" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."
"One you know where to put your sword at the right time and place, that is the beginning of it," Anderson says in the 2003 documentary "An Epic at Sea: The Making of 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.'" "The routine now has to be rehearsed so it can be done with speed and agility and feeling and timing."