LONDON — Bob Anderson, Olympic swordsman and the man inside Darth Vader’s helmet during many iconic lightsaber battles in the Star Wars films, has died aged 89, the British Academy of Fencing said Monday.
Anderson, who represented Britain in fencing at the 1952 Games, “passed away peacefully” at 0400 GMT on Sunday in an English hospital, the fencing organisation announced.
“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,” said Philip Bruce, president of the academy.
Although arch-villain Vader was played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl, Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill later revealed 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 in 1983.
“Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition.”
Anderson wielded the famous saber in two of the three original Star Wars films, “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”.
The sword-specialist was born in Hampshire, south England, in 1922 and served in the elite Royal Marines during World War II.
After his professional sporting career, Anderson went on to forge a living in the film industry, working on James Bond films “From Russia With Love” and “Die Another Day” and also on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.