World of Sport

Olympic fencer who played Darth Vader dies aged 89

World of Sport

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Bob Anderson

The legendary British Olympic fencer who performed Darth Vader's lightsabre scenes in Star Wars has died at the age of 89.

Bob Anderson died in hospital on New Year's Day, the British Academy of Fencing confirmed, with academy president Philip Brice acclaiming him as"truly one of our greatest fencing masters".

The sabre specialist represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952, and also fought for his country at the World Championships in 1950 and 1953.

Anderson was born in Hampshire in 1922, and served in the Royal Marines during the Second World War.

His sporting career flourished after he left the military, but his third career as a celluloid swordsman began in the same year that he went to the Olympics - starting out staging fights for Errol Flynn.

Anderson went on to become one of the most sought-after sword fight choreographers in cinema, working on films including From Russia With Love, The Legend of Zorro and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But it was for his stunning lightsabre scenes in the original Star Wars trilogy that he will be best remembered.

Yet that recognition came only when actor  Mark Hamill - who played Luke Skywalker in the first three Star Wars films - revealed that Anderson had been the man in the famous Darth Vader costume during the memorable sequences.

"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."

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