Bob Anderson, Olympic fencer and movie sword master who donned Darth Vader's helmet for all of the light saber fight scenes in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, has passed away at the age of 89. Cause of death was not disclosed to the public.
Bob Anderson worked as a sword master, fight director, and stunt performer for over five decades in cinema, appearing alongside Errol Flynn, Antonio Banderas, and Mark Hamill.
It was Mark Hamill who outted Bob Anderson as the third piece of the Darth Vader persona in 1983. The actor was joined by James Earl Jones as the voice and David Prowse as the body in creating one of the greatest villains of all time.
According to Bob Anderson's former assistant Leon Hill, David Prowse wasn't good with a sword, and he was unable to properly learn the moves needed for the climatic end fight scene in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. So, despite being several inches shorter and nearing 60 years of age, Bob donned the costume and did the scenes himself opposite Mark Hamill, whom he also trained.
Talking to Starlog Magazine in 1983, this is what Mark Hamill had to say about the man.
"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. 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."
After serving in World War II as part of the Royal Marines, Bob Anderson represented Britain at the 1952 Olympics in fencing, and participated in the 1950 and 1953 world championships before becoming Britain's national fencing team coach. He would later serve as the technical director of the Canadian Fencing Association.
After working alongside Errol Flynn in the 1952 adventure film The Master of Ballantrae, Bob Anderson went onto become one of the most sought after stunt performers and sword fighters in Hollywood, contributing to the James Bond franchise with From Russia with Love and Die Another Day. He also worked on The Princess Bride, The Legend of Zorro, and all three The Lord of the Rings movies.
Bob Anderson is survived by his wife Pearl and three children.