Bob Anderson, who fought light sabre battles as Darth Vader in two of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, has died. The former Olympic fencer passed away at the age of 89 on Sunday, January 1 in West Sussex, England. The British Academy of Fencing confirmed his death on the same day, stating that he died "peacefully at 4 A.M. in hospital."
"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," Philip Bruce, the president of the British Academy of Fencing, said in a post on the group's website. "My heart felt sympathies and thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."
Anderson appeared in a light saber duel against Mark Hamill, who was playing Luke Skywalker, in both "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi". Few knew that Anderson was the man behind the Darth Vader mask for the fight scene until Hamill publicly acknowledged his work.
In a 1983 interview with Starlog magazine, Hamill said, "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."
One of the industry's most sought after stunt performers, fight choreographers and sword masters, Anderson has worked on such movies as the James Bond films, "From Russia With Love" and "Die Another Day"; the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy; and Antonio Banderas' action films, "The Mask of Zorro" and "The Legend of Zorro".