Darth Vader swordsman dies at 89: The master of the lightsaber

darth-vader-vs-luke-original.jpgIn the original "Star Wars" trilogy, Darth Vader was normally played by bodybuilder David Prowse. But when Prowse failed to master the swordsmanship required for iconic lightsaber fight scenes, master fencer Bob Anderson stepped in.

We are sorry to report that Anderson passed away a few hours after midnight on Jan 1, 2012. He was 89 years old.

Anderson, a legendary fencing trainer and choreographer, was six inches shorter than Prowse, so he had to wear considerable lifts under that Vader cloak. Still, he fought like a pro, weilding the lightsaber in scenes including the most memorable of the series, in which Vader cut off Luke's hand and revealed, "Luke, I am your father."

In fact, it was Mark Hamill himself who told the world about Anderson's considerable role in the series. "It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George [Lucas] I didn't think it was fair any more," Hamill said in 1983. "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."

The British Academy of Fencing first announced the news, writing, "It is with extreme sadness that I must inform you that Bob Anderson passed away peacefully this morning at 4 am 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. My heart felt sympathies and thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.."
Photo/Video credit: LucasFilm