Comic-Con 2014

'Star Wars' Light Saber Master Bob Anderson Passes Away at 89

The sword-fighting expert wielded the red light saber of Darth Vader in 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi'.
Light Saber Master Bob Anderson passes away at 89
Light Saber Master Bob Anderson passes away at 89
Bob Anderson, Olympic fencer and movie sword master who donned Darth Vader's helmet for all of the light saber fight scenes in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, has passed away at the age of 89. Cause of death was not disclosed to the public.

Bob Anderson worked as a sword master, fight director, and stunt performer for over five decades in cinema, appearing alongside Errol Flynn, Antonio Banderas, and Mark Hamill.

It was Mark Hamill who outted Bob Anderson as the third piece of the Darth Vader persona in 1983. The actor was joined by James Earl Jones as the voice and David Prowse as the body in creating one of the greatest villains of all time.

According to Bob Anderson's former assistant Leon Hill, David Prowse wasn't good with a sword, and he was unable to properly learn the moves needed for the climatic end fight scene in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. So, despite being several inches shorter and nearing 60 years of age, Bob donned the costume and did the scenes himself opposite Mark Hamill, whom he also trained.

Talking to Starlog Magazine in 1983, this is what Mark Hamill had to say about the man.

"Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader's fighting. 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."


After serving in World War II as part of the Royal Marines, Bob Anderson represented Britain at the 1952 Olympics in fencing, and participated in the 1950 and 1953 world championships before becoming Britain's national fencing team coach. He would later serve as the technical director of the Canadian Fencing Association.

After working alongside Errol Flynn in the 1952 adventure film The Master of Ballantrae, Bob Anderson went onto become one of the most sought after stunt performers and sword fighters in Hollywood, contributing to the James Bond franchise with From Russia with Love and Die Another Day. He also worked on The Princess Bride, The Legend of Zorro, and all three The Lord of the Rings movies.

Bob Anderson is survived by his wife Pearl and three children.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back was released May 21st, 1980 and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker. The film is directed by Irvin Kershner.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi was released May 25th, 1983 and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Sebastian Shaw, Ian McDiarmid. The film is directed by Richard Marquand.



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Comments (16)

  1. Ev1l_Sp00n

    R.I.P Mr Anderson it was a pleasure to have met and worked with you.

    3 years agoby @ev1l-spoonFlag

  2. MovieManiac

    @k-man -Thanks for the info. I have both the star wars and Lord of the Rings sagas on bluray so I should look out for both of the doc*metaries.

    3 years agoby @moviemaniac66Flag

  3. CBF

    RIP fellow swordsman.

    3 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  4. CUPID

    Damn!! and all this time i thought Vader did his own stunts.

    3 years agoby @cupidFlag

  5. CelluloidDreams

    Do not grieve at the passing of mortality, for life's but a thing of terrible gravity. And the planets gravitate around you, and the stars shall dance about you,and the angels in heaven adore you,and the saints all stand and applaud you.
    So faraway, so faraway and yet so close.

    Nick Cave, "Far Away, So Close"

    3 years agoby @2movieguysFlag

  6. Nicholaus XX

    R.I.P. Bob Anderson.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  7. K-Man

    @bawnian-dexeus@the-movieghost@corey - Yeah, you should check it out.....he's heavily featured in The Making of The Lord of the Rings *Extended Edition* which, by the way, is the single handed best making of doc*mentary on the market (and I'm not saying that because I'm a huge fan, its because it's six discs worth of the most detailed special features I've ever seen on disc). It's literally like film-school on dvd/blu-ray. (For those who dont know it's a 12 disc set and 6 of them are strictly special features......its amazing)

    He's also featured a bit on the making of Star Wars. I remember seeing him in the vader suit on the Cloud City set and him talking about it.

    Both are great and very informative making of doc*mentaries.....I highly suggest you check them out if you haven't already.

    3 years agoby @k-manFlag

  8. ROFLitschristian

    Terrible. R.I.P.

    3 years agoby @ROFLitschristianFlag

  9. Corey W.

    @k-man I'm gonna check out those features you mentioned. Sound interesting.

    R.I.P.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  10. Oxxford699

    R.I.P. Sith Lord!!!

    3 years agoby @oxxford699Flag

  11. Kang-hee Kim

    Had no idea neither. Rest in Peace, Master.

    3 years agoby @Kang-hee-KimFlag

  12. the MovieGhost

    @k-man: So that's where he's familiar from. I always loved watching those, come to think of it... I should give those another watch.

    Rest in Peace good man.

    3 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  13. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    @k-man Guess they didn't add that info in the copies I have, or I just missed the name

    3 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  14. K-Man

    @zanyzap@bawnian-dexeus - You guys need to watch more "making of doc*mentaries". He was a cool dude.

    very sad.

    3 years agoby @k-manFlag

  15. ZanyZap

    I had no idea who he was until now either, but the headline alone calls for respect. Light saber master? May the force be with you, good sir.

    3 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  16. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    Had no idea. Rest in Peace

    3 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

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