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Olympic Fencer/Darth Vader Passes Away at 89

Bob Anderson, a former Olympic fencer who staged Darth Vader’s light saber battles in two “Star Wars” movies, has died in West Sussex, England. He was 89.

Anderson died peacefully Jan. 1 at a hospital, British Academy of Fencing President Philip Bruce wrote on the organization’s website.

“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,” Bruce wrote. “My heart felt sympathies and thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.”

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Considered to be Hollywood’s go-to choreographer for sword-fighting, Bruce tutored Sean Connery and Lindsay Lohan, among others.

In “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” Anderson was Darth Vader’s onscreen stunt double in the light saber battles — including the scene in which the character cuts off the hand of Luke Skywalker. Anderson was uncredited in both films.

In a 1983 with Starlog magazine, Mark Hamill, who played Skywalker, said Anderson’s contributions to the films should be made known.

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“Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting,” he said. “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.”

Anderson also lent his sword-fighting talents to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Princess Bride,” “The Mask of Zorro” and the 1998 remake of “The Parent Trap,” for which he tutored Lohan.

He was also Connery’s stunt double in “Highlander” and performed sword-fighting stunts for Johnny Depp’s and Orlando Bloom’s characters in “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

Bruce is survived by his wife and three children.

Read more on Mr. Anderson’s life over on NPR.org. There’s also a bonus video of Viggo Mortensen talking about his time training with the sword-wielding legend.