'Darth Vader' Swordsman Bob Anderson Dies at 89

9:41 AM PST 01/02/2012 by Michael O'Connell
Courtesy Everett Collection

The Olympic fencer gave moves to James Earl Jones' voice over, appearing in two of the original three "Star Wars" films.

One of the men behind Stars Wars villain Darth Vader has died.

Bob Anderson, an Olympic fencer, film swordsman, fight director and stunt performer passed away at 89 in his native United Kingdom. The AP reports the British Academy of Fencing confirms his Jan. 1 death.

Working with famous players such as Errol Flynn and Antonio Banderas, Anderson's most famous scenes were done nearly anonymously in the Star Wars franchise. He dueled with light sabers in both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

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Anderson was just one third of Vader. James Earl Jones provided the husky voice over, while former weightlifter David Prowse provided the imposing six foot six figure when Vader wasn't involved in a complicated fight scene.

He was nearly 60 by the time he took on the role of Vader, something his co-star Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) praised him for.

The actor was the first to publicly acknowledge Anderson's work in a 1983 interview.

"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."

Before taking on film work, Anderson served in Britain's Royal Marines during World War II, teaching fencing aboard ships while stationed in the Mediterranean. He went on to represent the country in the 1952 Olympics and the 1950 and 1953 fencing world championships.

In the last decade, he worked as sword master on the set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

He's survived by a wife and three children.

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