Darth Vader dies peacefully in hospital
Bob Anderson – the man who made lightsaber work of Obi-Wan
Master swordsman Bob Anderson, the Hollywood fencing coach who wielded Darth Vader’s lightsaber, died peacefully in a West Sussex hospital on Sunday, aged 89.
Described as “truly one of our greatest fencing masters and a world-class film fight director and choreographer” in a tribute on the British Academy of Fencing’s website, Anderson was responsible for cutting off Luke Skywalker’s hand and dispatching Obi-Wan Kenobi to the hereafter in the original Star Wars trilogy.
Anderson filled in for David Prowse for the memorable lightsaber duel sequences, but received no credit for his efforts. Actor Mark Hamill later told Starlog magazine: “Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting. It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George 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.”
Anderson represented Britain in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, and subsequently coached the UK team for several further games. His long film career began in 1953, when he was drafted in as a stunt double for Errol Flynn.
He went on to train actors including Antonio Banderas, Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen, while swinging a sword in Highlander as Sean Connery’s double.
Anderson later worked on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and was Sword Master on the forthcoming adaptation of The Hobbit.
He once said of his weapon of choice: “The sword is the ultimate weapon. It’s not so threatening shooting at someone 20 or 30 paces away or while hiding behind things. When you get into a sword fight, you’re standing toe-to-toe with someone who’s trying to kill you and you’re looking him in the eye – now that’s thrilling.”